On June 27, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced via a press release that it is seeking public comment on its “Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care.”
The release states that “Access to high-quality primary healthcare 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.”
That said, “Unfortunately, our nation’s primary healthcare foundation is weakening and in need of support: primary healthcare 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 says that its goal for the “Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care” is to develop a federal foundation for the provision of primary healthcare for those that support improved health outcomes and advanced health equity. The first step, according to the release, is to produce an HHS Action Plan this year.
The initiative launched in September 2021 and its goals include:
- Supporting health and wellness through continued partnerships with patients, families/caregivers, and their communities
- Equitably providing first contact access to all, including whole person, comprehensive care, using interprofessional teams
- Organizing and integrating across systems—including different healthcare providers, public health, and community-based health promotion and social service organizations
The public comment period opened on June 27 and will be open for 36 days through August 1.
“The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is coordinating development of an HHS Action Plan to Strengthen Primary Health Care by working across HHS agencies and offices as well as with other federal offices and departments,” the release adds. “The recently released National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Report, Implementing High Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care, will inform the development of the HHS Action Plan.”
OASH is using multiple strategies to involve a diverse group of stakeholders and subject matter experts that include patient, family, and community advocates to learn about different approaches, needs, and challenges to inform the HHS Action Plan.
More information can be found here.