Report Pushes for Investment in Primary Care Infrastructure

The federal government must aggressively bolster primary care and connect more Americans with a dedicated source of care, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warn in a new major report that sounds the alarm about an endangered foundation of the U.S. health system. The urgently worded report calls for a broad recognition that primary care is a “common good” akin to public education. The plan’s five objectives are:

  • Pay for primary care teams to care for people, not doctors to deliver services.
  • Ensure that high-quality primary care is available to every individual and family in every community.
  • Train primary care teams where people live and work.
  • Design information technology that serves the patient, family and interprofessional care team.
  • Ensure that high-quality primary care is implemented in the United States.

The authors recommend that all Americans select a primary care provider or be assigned one, a landmark step that could reorient how care is delivered in the nation’s fragmented medical system. And the report calls on major government health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid to shift money to primary care and away from the medical specialties that have long commanded the biggest fees in the U.S. system. Currently, only about five percent of U.S. health care spending goes to primary care, versus an average of 14 percent in other wealthy nations, according to data collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Read more.