PCC, Partners Brief Capitol Hill on Primary Care and Needed Payment Reforms

On June 18, the Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) hosted a briefing for congressional staff and stakeholders, Charting the Course: Transforming Primary Care for Tomorrow, in partnership with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and The Commonwealth Fund. The briefing kicked off with a panel discussion and included remarks from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who recently joined with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on bipartisan primary care legislation along with a request for information from stakeholders.

The panel featured National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions President and CEO Shawn Gremminger; Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln President Dr. Bob Rauner; and Associate Professor of Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine Matthew Press.

Throughout the panel, moderated by BPC’s Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anand Parekh, speakers underscored the importance of high-quality primary care in building an equitable and effective health care system.

Panelists agreed that Americans increasingly lack access to the high-quality, comprehensive primary care because payment systems with misaligned incentives continue to underemphasize primary care and prevention. The conversation underscored that this underinvestment was driving higher costs and undermining the health of communities across the nation.

As Gremminger noted, employers typically want to cut costs associated with health care, but primary care consistently stands out as one major area where employers want to invest more because of the long-term, positive impact of that primary care.

Following the panel, PCC President and CEO Ann Greiner introduced Senator Whitehouse.

In his remarks, Whitehouse stressed the importance of investing in primary care and crafting common-sense, bipartisan legislation to improve our primary care system. Whitehouse and Cassidy’s bill, The Pay PCPs Act (S. 4338), aims to better support and improve pay for primary care clinicians. PCC has been heartened by the embrace of hybrid payment and patient affordability policies included in the bill and has appreciated the senators’ efforts to engage stakeholders.

Amid the growing discourse around Medicare payment reform on Capitol Hill, this successful briefing highlighted the pivotal role primary care has to play. Alongside other recent PCC activities, it signifies a growing recognition of the urgent need to address and enhance primary care services to improve overall health care outcomes.

To build on the momentum, PCC’s Better Health – NOW Campaign plans to respond to the Whitehouse/Cassidy RFI, drawing on the principles for a broadly available hybrid payment articulated in its response to the Senate Finance Committee’s White Paper. PCC strongly encourages PCC members and others to respond as well. Responses must be submitted to physician_payment@cassidy.senate.gov by July 15, 2024.

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