Public/Private Partnership Comes Together to Support Primary Care Transformation in Washington State

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Public/Private Partnership Comes Together to Support Primary Care Transformation in Washington State

Facing mounting challenges with the primary care system, a public, private partnership of some of Washington’s largest employers and health care purchasers has formed to use their collective power to drive change toward a comprehensive transformation of primary care.

The primary care system has long relied on the dated fee-for-service model, in which providers are paid based on services rendered per patient, but this partnership is focused on fostering a whole health, integrated care model gaining traction in our state.

“Primary care is essential to ensuring every resident in Washington lives a healthy, productive life,” said Drew Oliveira, MD, MHA, Executive Director, Washington Health Alliance. “Aligning our health care purchasing to bolster a whole health, integrated care model will alleviate care gaps and guarantee everyone can have a lifelong, productive primary care relationship.”

Read the Primary Care Purchaser Partnership’s statement, highlighting the steps health care purchasers will take to drive change in the market.

The primary care system in Washington is facing issues on multiple fronts. Like much of the country, access to a primary care provider (PCP) is chief among the issues. A report in 2022 showed that Washington State had the lowest rate nationwide of primary care providers per 100,000 residents.

Not having access to a PCP can dramatically impact the care an individual receives – most notably in preventative care that can be lifesaving. The Washington Health Alliance, the state’s only independent, multi-stakeholder health care collaborative, reported this year that those without a primary care provider are two to three times less likely to receive appropriate care. Compounding the issue, 35 and 40 percent of Washington residents do not have a primary care provider. Put simply, improving primary care will improve quality care.

“Not only do we need to ensure that everyone has appropriate access to a primary care provider, but we also need to promote a reinvigorated primary care model that pays for quality of care, so Washington residents are getting the screenings and treatment they need throughout their lives,” said Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer, King County.

The commitment from this group, representing more than 700,000 commercially insured lives in Washington, comes as state and federal efforts move toward implementation. Making Care Primary, a federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services effort administered by the state, is set to launch in 2024 with healthcare providers and health plans signaling interest to participate this fall.

This initiative would incorporate the Washington Multi-payer Primary Care Transformation Model, which prioritizes whole person, integrated care.

Learn more about the Washington Multi-Payer Primary Care Transformation Model.

Aligning with these efforts, health care purchasers and health plan sponsors agree that all successful paths toward a stronger, more equitable health care system in Washington state are built on a foundation of comprehensive, advanced primary care.

Purchaser organizations in the partnership:

Association of Washington Cities Employee Benefit Trust

King County

Purchaser Business Group on Health

SEIU 775 Benefits Group

Washington State Health Care Authority

Washington Health Benefits Exchange

Washington Health Alliance