By: Beau Boughamer
An on-point op-ed featured at CNN.com cites NACHC statistics on the medically disenfranchised in making the case for greater focus on primary care.
One goal all sides can agree on, but have yet to meaningfully address, is the need to end the crisis of primary care in the United States.
Without taking steps to fix it, any attempt at reforming our health system cannot succeed.
Consider that the number of patients without a primary care doctor is estimated to be 60 million, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers. Most patients want their medical care to be consolidated at a single office, provided by clinicians who know them well. In a survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association, 94 percent of patients preferred seeing a primary care doctor first for their medical issues.
But in most cases, patients wait weeks or months for a primary care appointment, which often leads them to the emergency department for care that ordinarily can be handled in a doctor’s office.
According to the World Health Organization, health care systems centered around primary care have lower costs and better outcomes, which Congress has recognized by acknowledging the need for reducing the gap between what primary care doctors and specialists are paid. However, ideas to make it easier to deliver primary care and strengthen the doctor-patient relationship need to be at the forefront of the health reform conversation.
Improving primary care in America needs to be about more than the money.