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Groundbreaking study links higher primary care spending to better care quality in California

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | April 20, 2022 Primary Care

These findings support a growing nationwide trend of states focusing on primary care investment and improvement as a way to address health disparities, improve health outcomes, and stabilize costs. For instance, a simple blood pressure check may allow primary care providers to catch a chronic disease early, allowing for easier treatment, less disruption to the patient, and lower medical expenses all around by helping the patient avoid the risk of a stroke.

A new California Health Care Foundation / NORC Health Policy Survey reveals striking differences between insured Californians who have a primary care provider and those who don’t. Insured Latino/x Californians were the least likely to report having a primary care provider compared to other insured Californians. The survey also underscores the value primary care brings to patient access and experience. Californians who report having a primary care provider have fewer language, distance, and affordability barriers to appropriate care and are less likely to delay care. Californians with a primary care provider are also less likely to report negative experiences with health care providers.

In California, the move toward primary care is broadly supported to create higher quality and more equitable health care. Convened by the California Health Care Foundation, several of the state’s largest public and private health care purchasers have come together with health care consumer advocates and experts to commit to increasing the share of health care dollars devoted to primary care.

Covered California, the California Health Care Foundation, the California Quality Collaborative, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the California Department of Health Care Services, the California Health and Human Services Agency, the Milbank Memorial Fund, the Purchaser Business Group on Health, Health Access California, and the Integrated Healthcare Association have joined together as the Primary Care Investment Coordinating Group of California (PICG) to promote several recommended actions aimed at creating a new business model for primary care and expanding primary care investments across the state.

“Decades of research have shown increased investments in primary care lead to higher quality and more equitable care. Yet America, on average, spends only about five cents of every health care dollar on primary care,” said Kathryn E. Phillips, CHCF senior program officer. “The shared, sweeping commitment of PICG members signals a major shift in priorities for health care in California and is intended to spur new investment in primary care throughout the state and the nation.”

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