The health care landscape looks vastly different than it did a few years ago. Despite seemingly insurmountable challenges such as consolidation, staffing shortages, and numerous public health threats, primary care is confronting these shifts head-on while continuing to be a pillar of unwavering support in our health care system. The road ahead is bright, especially when we look at the innovative ways practices are caring for patients and serving their communities.
As leaders who work with physicians and practices daily, we know that one major way to build investment in primary care is to overhaul our system for financing primary care and move toward a system that is designed to support high-quality primary care, as recently defined and recommended by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine.
Over the past decade, we’ve seen more primary care practices move into alternative payment models (APMs) that help them care for their patients. The best part is that it’s working: Primary care practices in these new models are improving quality, producing savings, and investing in new care delivery strategies that improve patient outcomes and physician satisfaction.
We attribute much of this progress to the combination of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (the Innovation Center) and the permanent Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). We’ve made significant progress as policy makers, clinicians, payers, and other stakeholders approach consensus on the need for prospective, population-based primary care payments, data-driven population health management, and integrated care delivery teams for primary care to achieve its potential.
It’s easy to overlook this success and point to failures. A recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report asserts that, in aggregate, the experiments run by the Innovation Center increased federal spending during their first decade—but the report failed to mention the progress we’ve made.