Primary Care Investment

"Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and well-being centered on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities. It addresses the broader determinants of health and focuses on the comprehensive and interrelated aspects of physical, mental and social health and well-being. It provides whole-person care for health needs throughout the lifespan, not just for a set of specific diseases.”

World Health Organization fact sheet on primary health care, 2020.

In 2018, the WAFP House of Delegates pursued a strategy to increase the prominence of primary care in Washington’s health care system. Evidence from other states, and from nations around the world, demonstrates that systems which prioritize primary care have better health outcomes at lower costs and with greater patient satisfaction.

Since then, WAFP advocated and secured funding from the state legislature to study health care spending in the state. The study found that less than 5 percent of health care funding in Washington goes to primary care. In 2022, SB 5589 was passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee. This bill, introduced at WAFP's request, directs the Health Care Cost Transparency Board to measure and report on primary care expenditures in the state, as well as the progress towards increasing it to 12 percent of total health care expenditures. It further authorizes the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to assess insurers' primary care expenditures. While this is a huge victory for primary care in Washington, the work continues.