Primary Care is the Foundation of the Health Care System

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Updated: February 15, 2017

Because quality primary care is transformational and a cornerstone of healthy, thriving communities, the Primary Care Development Corporation urges policy makers to embrace these core primary care principles in order to assure comprehensive and affordable coverage, access, capacity, and quality.

Coverage should be universal and affordable, and support early and consistent access to primary care.

To achieve healthy communities, reduce costs, and create equity, the primary care system requires universal and affordable health insurance coverage. Uninsured persons – particularly those with the lowest incomes – are less likely to seek care, and when they do, they are often sicker and require more costly acute or urgent health care. As health insurance coverage increased following the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more people reported having a regular place to go for medical care.

  • Coverage should be designed to promote access to, and utilization of, primary care.
  • Preventive services, most of which are delivered by primary care providers, should be covered without any out-of-pocket costs to ensure that access is unimpeded.
  • Medicaid and Medicare should be maintained and strengthened without a decrease in federal funding commitments or cost shifting to the states or consumers.

Primary care services should be comprehensive.

Primary care, including screening, diagnosis, and treatment, as well as referral and coordination with other parts of the health care system, is essential to promote health and prevent disease throughout the life cycle.

  • All primary care services should be covered, including women’s reproductive health care, behavioral health, oral health care, and preventive services.
  • The primary care safety net, including federally qualified health centers and women’s reproductive health centers, should be present and supported in all communities, including urban and rural areas.

Sufficient reimbursement for the full range of primary care services is critical.

Today, only about 5 to 7 cents of every health care dollar goes to primary care. Given the centrality of primary care to strengthening and transforming America’s health care system, the ACA and other reform efforts have provided incentives to improve primary care delivery. This includes: patient-centered medical homes; care management, especially for people with complex, multiple chronic medical and behavioral health conditions; community behavioral health integration with primary care; women’s reproductive health; and preventive services such as screenings and immunizations. This investment strategy should continue and be accelerated.

  • Payment and delivery system reform efforts that improve primary care access, capacity, and quality should be a priority.
  • Primary care must be valued sufficiently to attract primary care practitioners into the workforce and to pay for all primary care services.


PCDC will be closely monitoring any move to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act.
Please join us to promote and protect primary care.