In 2016, during the 114th Congress, Reps. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) launched the Congressional Primary Care Caucus, dedicated to advancing public policy that establishes, promotes, and preserves a well-trained, high-quality primary care workforce and delivery system as the foundation of the nation’s health care system. The caucus will focus its efforts on advancing primary care that is comprehensive; continuous; connected; equitable to all regardless of age, race, or gender; and is mindful of social determinants that may hinder access to primary care for some individuals.
In a congressional video outlining the issues facing America's health care system due to the shortage of primary care physicians, Rouzer and Courtney elaborated on the importance of the caucus.
AAFP CEO and Executive Vice President Douglas Henley, M.D.: It's a real exciting afternoon because I get to share a little secret with you that you'll hear more about next week. I actually think it's a pretty big secret. Our former President Ted Epperly would call this a big freaking deal. Remember how, on Wednesday and Thursday, I mentioned to you how the Academy, our board, and our staff are trying to up our game on your behalf to be even bolder champions for you to give you the respect, the relief, and the representation you need? So, over the past few months, we have been working with a bipartisan group of members of Congress to create a new congressional caucus. Take a look.
Hello, I'm Congressman David Rouzer and I have the privilege of representing the people of North Carolina's 7th Congressional District.
Hi, I'm Congressman Joe Courtney and I'm honored to represent Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District.
Our national is facing a shortage of primary care physicians. This shortage is a result of a number of factors, including population growth, aging, and insurance expansion. Unfortunately, this shortage is affecting tens of thousands of families across the nation in both urban and rural areas. My district, which includes southeastern North Carolina, is especially hard-hit by this shortage. As a result, we have less access and fewer choices of quality health care for families and individuals.
As you know, our nation's health care system has undergone many reforms recently. But one thing that's been consistent through the years is the important relationship between patients and their primary care provider. Connecticut's 2nd District includes underserved areas, both urban and rural, where residents have limited access to primary care, despite research that shows the clear benefits of the primary care relationship to overall health and cost control.
Our primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants are critical to ensuring that all communities, both rural and urban, have access to the best services and providers.
Primary care providers will play an increasingly important role in shifting our health care system to reward better quality and lower costs. Many studies have demonstrated the stronger relationships between patients and primary care providers often result in better outcomes and healthier patients.
That's why Congressman Courtney and I are pleased to announce that we have launched the bipartisan Congressional Primary Care Caucus, with the main goal of educating and advocating on behalf of primary care physicians, providers, and patients.
The Primary Care Caucus will focus on educating members of Congress and the public about the value and importance of a comprehensive, coordinated, and connected primary care system to benefit patients and our communities. We invite you to join us in this important work.
Henley: That's right, sports fans, what do you think? That's upping our game.
The number of Congress people in both the House and the Senate on both sides of the aisle that are beginning to join this caucus is increasing every day. It's going to be announced next week — you heard it first. So congratulations on that.
They have assured us that they're going to be working with their colleagues to help them better understand on Capitol Hill with all members of Congress, their staff, and, ultimately, with the administration to better understand what you do every day: the value that you bring to a foundational health care system based in primary care. This is a big step forward for our advocacy agenda on your behalf: to up our game, to be greater bold champions for you. And I'm excited to announce it today and to share it with you and more to come in many announcements that we'll give you along the way.