The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken our society to the core, sending millions of Californians reeling, and leaving no sector of the economy unaffected. Recent studies indicate nearly 80 percent of primary care clinicians are experiencing “severe” or “close to severe” financial strain as a result of COVID-19. Patients are forgoing essential care for chronic disease management, preventive services, and mental health care. This results in a significant deterioration of patient health, but also risks the closure of primary care practices throughout the state.
We must immediately save our primary care infrastructure from fiscal collapse to ensure it can meet the needs of the current state of emergency, as well as the pent-up post-pandemic demand sure to follow. We can do this without any impact on the State’s General Fund.
Please adopt the Care for Californians Initiative: https://www.pbgh.org/storage/documents/Care_for_Californians_Initiative_Concept-May_20-2020_Final.pdf
The Initiative will:
Health plans are spending less on patient care yet continue to collect premiums. As a result, Moody’s and other investor services predict health insurers will remain profitable over the next few years. The Care for Californians Initiative compels health plans and insurers to be part of the solution by allowing primary care providers to receive a combination of emergency prospective payments and fee-for-service billing during 2020 and 2021, with the payments decreasing in 2021. This proposal provides an emergency solution that centers on meeting public health needs while creating a lifeline for primary care providers to maintain access to care for their patients.
While the short-term prospective payment intervention would provide an immediate support for primary care practices, California must also move toward fundamental primary care payment reform that pays primary care physicians for quality rather than just volume. The Care for Californians Initiative will do this by directing the State to convene payers, providers and consumers to identify how our system can move primary care to value-based payment and finally providing the real resources needed for a robust primary care foundation to California’s health care system. This solution would cost nothing to the State’s General Fund while ensuring access to care during this crisis and beyond.
Please contact the Legislature IMMEDIATELY to deliver these messages using this link, and encourage all of your colleagues to do the same.