• Academy Lobbies to Center COVID Solutions on Primary Care

    AAFP Lays Out Policy Guidance for Administration’s New Action Plan

    September 23, 2021, 12:58 p.m. News Staff — The Biden administration’s latest plan to slow the COVID-19 public health emergency should center its vaccination efforts on primary care practices without increasing complexity, the Academy told the White House in a Sept. 13 letter.

    front of White House

    “As we enter the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination process, which will include new vaccine mandates, recommended boosters for some patients and COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12, additional actions are needed to support primary care practices,” the AAFP wrote.

    The letter, signed by Board Chair Gary LeRoy, M.D., of Dayton, Ohio, was in response to the Sept. 9 announcement of the Path Out of the Pandemic plan.  

    “Primary care physicians are well positioned to provide extensive counseling to vaccine-hesitant patients, help ensure adults receive recommended booster shots and provide children with COVID-19 vaccines once they are authorized,” the Academy said, prefacing a number of policy recommendations. These included

    • ready access to vaccine supplies for primary care physicians;
    • adjusting the federal vaccine distribution methodology to prioritize independent primary care practices;
    • streamlining registration and reporting requirements for primary care physicians administering COVID-19 vaccines;
    • encouraging the manufacture of smaller vaccine vials and facilitating public-private partnerships to reduce waste;
    • coordinating with states and localities to engage with primary care practices in their vaccination efforts, particularly in states that have not conducted any outreach to primary care;
    • developing template letters, emails, text messages and social media for physicians to use when contacting patients to encourage vaccination;
    • requiring Medicare and Medicaid to pay for vaccine counseling when it is performed separately from vaccine administration; and
    • encouraging states and private insurers to pay for COVID-19 vaccine administration services at a rate at least equal to Medicare’s.

    The letter also urged policies to boost information sharing among retail pharmacies, primary care practices, and other community sources of COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.

    “The burden should not fall on primary care physicians to determine if their patients received the COVID-19 vaccine from a community vaccine provider,” the AAFP said. “Further, primary care physicians should be notified if their patients are prescribed or administered monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19, so they can provide appropriate follow-up care. Increasing reliance on pharmacists and other providers outside of patients’ medical homes squanders the value of physician-patient relationships and leads to care fragmentation.”