• HHS Seeks Input on Strengthening Primary Health Care

    Submit Your Comments by Aug. 1

    July 21, 2022, 10:41 a.m. News Staff — The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, as part of the ongoing HHS Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care in the United States, is seeking public comment from family physicians and others about steps the federal government can take to improve overall access to health care, advance health equity, reduce health disparities and improve the health of the general population.

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    In addition to family physicians and other health care professionals, OASH is particularly interested in receiving comments from professional societies; caregivers; community health centers and rural health clinics; state, local, tribal and territorial governments and public health departments; educators; academic researchers; health insurance payers and purchasers; health technology developers; and policy experts. Comments are due by 11:59 p.m. EDT on Aug. 1 and will be used to develop an HHS action plan and identify additional actions and strategies that can be implemented at the federal level.

    Submitting Comments

    Respondents to the agency’s request for information may provide input on any or all of the following topics:

    • successful innovations or models that improve primary health care;
    • barriers to implementing successful innovations or models and solutions to overcome those barriers;
    • strategies for successfully engaging communities; and
    • possible HHS actions.

    Although anyone may comment, each responding person or organization is asked to submit only one response via email to OASHPrimaryHealthCare@hhs.gov. Responses should be submitted either in the body of the email or as a Word document attachment, with “Primary Health Care RFI” included in the subject line.

    Responses should include the name of the person(s) or organization(s) filing the comment. Submissions should be concise; if a Word attachment is being submitted, it must not exceed four pages in 12-point or larger font and have a page number provided on each page.

    It should be noted that the Academy will also be submitting comments in response to OASH’s request. The AAFP’s comments will focus on the following topic areas:

    • increasing investment in primary care by paying primary care teams to care for people;
    • ensuring timely, equitable access to person-centered primary care for everyone;
    • targeting federal medical education resources to address physician shortages and diversify the workforce;
    • improving data sharing with primary care and reducing administrative burden; and
    • enhancing federal data and research funding to measure progress in strengthening primary care.

    About the Initiative

    The HHS Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care launched in September 2021 following the publication of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report in May 2021 that called on the agency to take a leadership role in ensuring high-quality primary health care for all individuals. According to an HHS fact sheet, the initiative “aims to establish a federal foundation that supports advancement toward a goal state of the practice of primary health care.” That goal state envisions primary health care as

    • supporting health and wellness through sustained partnerships with patients, families, caregivers and their communities;
    • equitably providing first-contact access to all, as well as whole-person, comprehensive care over time, using interprofessional teams; and
    • coordinating and integrating care across systems, including other health care professionals, public health, and community-based health promotion and social service organizations.