• Congressional Primary Care Caucus

    Working to advance comprehensive, continuous and equitable primary care

    Primary Care Caucus

    Overview

    The bipartisan Congressional Primary Care Caucus is co-chaired by Reps. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.) and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and 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.

    Established in 2015, 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:

    • ensuring appropriate payment for primary care;
    • enacting federal program and policy changes to increase primary care access and training, especially in underserved and rural communities, and strategies to address they primary care physician workforce shortage;
    • reforms to graduate medical education to support the education and training of primary care physicians;
    • policy changes to strengthen telehealth services in the primary care setting;
    • steps to harmonize value-based care and quality improvement efforts among different payers; and
    • research on the value of primary care and its role in pandemic preparedness and improving health equity.

    The Importance of Primary Care

    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.


    Primary Care Caucus in the 117th Congress

    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.

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