Welcome to On Our Minds, the latest feature from the Farley Health Policy Center, where we will share commentary on policies affecting health, trends from findings in data and research, and the issues that matter most in our communities. We invite you to share your perspectives and input. Drawing on expertise from our evolving network, we’re eager to work with you, learn from you, build and share policy commentary that brings us together and continues to move us forward.
Larry A. Green, MD
The National Academy of Medicine released its new study of primary care May 4, 2021, “Implementing High Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care.” This study declared that primary care is the foundation of effective health care systems, a common good, and thus an important public concern. It re-stated what primary care should be and set five implementation objectives for the United States. This careful report concluded that a lack of accountability for implementing robust primary care thwarted the development and implementation of primary care for people of all backgrounds and walks of life—since the Academy’s previous recommendations to advance primary care were made 25 years ago. The report sounded the alarm that primary care in the United States is “crumbling” and in need of immediate renewal and support. Only a few months later, there is progress on correcting the lack of accountability at the federal level.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) has appointed Judith Steinberg as a new special advisor of primary care and is working to configure an office of primary care to coordinate development and implementation of robust primary care and improve cross-agency work. Such an office will be a first in the history of the United States and constitutes an important act of leadership on behalf of rebuilding primary care.
This development merits the enthusiastic attention and support of all individuals and entities that aim to improve health through improved healthcare that we can afford and relieve unconscionable health and health care disparities afflicting the United States. Indeed, primary care is health care’s mechanism to promote equity within societies.
We at the Farley Health Policy Center have joined with other health policy centers to applaud this development and declare our desire and willingness to join with this new office and others to unite interprofessional, interdisciplinary, cross-sector, public and private efforts to implement proper primary care for all. This is urgent work that calls not for further complaints of neglect of primary care and “our tribe”, but rather for collaborative, coordinated ACTION on behalf of the people of the United States. The time is now to work together to rebuild primary care.