The bipartisan Congressional Primary Care Caucus, established during the 114th Congress in 2015 by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) and David Rouzer (R-N.C.), educates members of Congress and their staffs on critical primary care issues affecting their districts and advocates for policies that strengthen U.S. primary care.
The goal of the Primary Care Caucus is to advance primary care that is comprehensive; continuous; equitable to all regardless of age, race, or gender; and mindful of social determinants of health that may hinder access to primary care. Among its aims:
Primary care is often the gateway to the rest of the health care system. Primary care physicians provide the first contact for patients’ new health problems, comprehensive care in preventive health, continuous care for ongoing health problems, and coordinated care where patients are referred to other health professionals when needed. In the U.S., primary care accounts for more than 55% of all office visits — approximately 500 million of 900 million annual visits.
Primary care physicians are integral members of their local communities and are uniquely positioned to meet patients “where they are.” As trusted advisers, primary care physicians may be most effective in encouraging basic prevention measures such as immunizations, smoking cessation, physical activity, and responsible dietary choices. In addition, promoting patients’ access to primary care may lead to a reduction in racial health disparities. A large body of research proves that establishing a relationship with a primary care physician is one of the most reliable determinants of better health outcomes. Studies suggest that as many as 127,617 deaths per year in the U.S. could be averted through an increase in the number of primary care physicians. Despite these proven benefits, the U.S. health care system significantly undervalues primary care — only 5% of overall health care spending is invested primary care.
To date, the Congressional Primary Care Caucus has 50 members. The AAFP encourages you to contact your representative and urge him or her to join. We will continue to work with the caucus to advance policy solutions that invest in and strengthen primary care, reduce health inequities, and improve access for all.