A Focus on Primary Care in the Other Washington

In Washington, DC, two events took place Thursday that highlighted the current state and future hope for primary care.

The first was a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, which considered the effect of corporate consolidation in health care. Among the witnesses was the AAFP’s executive vice president and chief executive officer, Shawn Martin. Martin and the other witnesses heard concerns from senators across the ideological spectrum about the pervasive vertical and horizontal integration within the health care industry.

During the time allotted for questions, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a member of the committee, inquired about the viability of transparency requirements for pharmacy benefit managers. She also noted the concern for hospital consolidation by religiously affiliated groups and believed transparency was key here too: hospitals, she said, should be up front with patients about which services are offered and which will not.

The second event was an announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of new primary care payment model, Making Care Primary, that will be tested in Washington and seven other states.

According to CMS, the goals of the new model are to “1) ensure patients receive primary care that is integrated, coordinated, person-centered and accountable; 2) create a pathway for primary care organizations and practices — especially small, independent, rural, and safety net organizations — to enter into value-based care arrangements; and 3) to improve the quality of care and health outcomes of patients while reducing program expenditures.”

Application to participating in the new model is expected to open in late summer, with the model officially launching on July 1, 2024.