July 27, 2020

Hofstra Panel: COVID-19 Shifts Health Care Experience, Highlights Primary Care Needs

Kemp Hannon and Louise Cohen
The Honorable Kemp Hannon and PCDC CEO Louise Cohen on a 2018 panel on primary care.

Disparate access to primary care across New York has exacerbated the pandemic’s health inequities – particularly along class and racial lines said Primary Care Development Corporation (PCDC) CEO Louise Cohen, who spoke on a recent Hofstra University panel on how COVID-19 will shift the way patients and clients experience health care going forward.

Facilitated by The Honorable Kemp Hannon, Health Policy Fellow at Hofstra University’s School of Health Professions & Human Services and former New York State Senate Health Committee chair, the conversation was a part of The State of Healthcare Opportunities and Policy Exchange (HOPE) series. The event focused on the impact of COVID-19 on various aspects of health care delivery.

“People of color have historically experienced worse health outcomes, COVID-19 has laid bare that reality,” said Cohen. “We must make meaningful change for communities of color, increase investments in underserved communities, and build access to a more robust primary care system as part of an equitable response to the pandemic.”

“If you have effective primary care, you reduce the need for acute care, which is far more expensive,” emphasized Hannon, whose long history of policy leadership includes his previous service as a member of the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL)’s executive committee and chair of the NCSL health committee.

Fellow panelists Dr. Alan Guerci, CEO of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, and Dr. Jose Prince, Surgery System Chief at Northwell Health, also discussed the drastic drop in patient volume felt by providers across the Empire State – particularly by primary care providers. The panelists shared the concern that there is an oncoming “second pandemic” resulting from deferred care in primary care and other health sectors.

“To the detriment of patients, primary care has largely been left out of COVID-19 response and relief efforts,” added Cohen. To avoid future gaps in care, she called for greater investments in the primary care system to build stronger infrastructure and delivery structures as well as shift primary care provider payments towards global prospective payment.

Additionally, Cohen highlighted PCDC’s efforts to develop a COVID-19 resiliency loan fund and provide telehealth technical assistance to providers to help keep primary care open for its patients.

PCDC’s COVID-19 Resources

Through advocacy, investment, and quality transformation, PCDC is committed to helping create the system we need. Learn more about PCDC’s financing options, training and technical assistance services, and tips for implementing telehealth.