The Biden administration has issued a request for comment on its plan to strengthen primary care across the country.
Overall, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is pushing to build a "federal foundation" for primary care that drives better health outcomes and addresses equity. A fact sheet from the agency notes that primary care plays a critical part to address health priorities, but it is under-resourced and struggling with a shrinking workforce.
The comment window will be open from June 27 through Aug. 1. The initiative's first goal is to develop and release an action plan by the end of 2022, and HHS said it is committed to offering multiple points of public participation as it works toward the plan.
"Access to high-quality primary health care has been shown to improve health equity and health outcomes, and is essential for addressing key priorities, including: the COVID-19 pandemic; mental and substance use disorder prevention and care; prevention and management of chronic conditions; addressing the impact of gender-based violence; and maternal and child health and well-being," the agency wrote in a fact sheet.
"Unfortunately, our nation’s primary health care foundation is weakening and in need of support: primary health care is under-resourced; the workforce is shrinking; workforce well-being is in peril; and many practices face reimbursement challenges that may result in financial instability," HHS wrote.
The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health is taking the lead on developing the action plan and is working with agencies across HHS to identify priorities, according to the fact sheet. The office will build on a recent study from the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine as well as input from a wide swath of stakeholders and industry experts.
Respondents to the RFI are asked to provide feedback on successful models that improve primary care, barriers to implementing those models, strategies for engaging with communities and actions HHS could take.
The agency is hoping to hear from a wide range of potential commenters under the RFI including providers, health insurers, paid and unpaid caregivers, state and local governments and health technology experts.