Federal Policy Updates

For state specific policy head to State Policy Updates


PCC Submits Primary Care Policy Priorities to Incoming Biden Administration

As president-elect Joe Biden and his administration prepare to take office on January 20, PCC has prepared a list of policy priorities in primary care that were submitted to Biden's transition team in late December. In sharing the priorities, PCC said that it "is eager to work with the new administration to ensure a strong primary care foundation to serve Americans both during and after the pandemic. Through its diverse executive membership, PCC is uniquely positioned to convene many of the key stakeholders in primary care to contribute to the president’s vision for healthcare reform and COVID response."

The PCC's priorities for the administration are:

  1. Support primary care’s ability to respond to, and sustain through, the pandemic.
  2. Strengthen CMS payment and delivery reform models.
  3. Advance health equity for patients. 

See the details of these priorities in the full document submitted to the Biden transition team.

PCC Telehealth Statement (October 2020)

The Primary Care Collaborative (PCC) welcomed the Taskforce for Telehealth Policy’s (TTP) charge in June to examine key considerations that are front-of-mind for primary care in the age of COVID: how does telehealth impact quality, coordination, and costs? The Taskforce’s final report offers initial findings and recommendations that should be considered as policymakers chart the road ahead for telehealth now and post-pandemic. Many of these are sensible and important, while a few recommendations need further shaping. In light of the TTP’s final report, PCC calls on policymakers to:

  1. Embed telehealth within existing advanced primary care and alternative payment models
  2. Continue to provide telehealth parity until a COVID-19 vaccine is widely distributed
  3. Support comprehensive, prospective payment for primary care that allows for flexible integration of telehealth
  4. Address the underlying factors that contribute to and exacerbate health inequities, including those that are connected to telehealth

PCC Supports Proposed 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule

The PCC sent a letter today to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to voice its strong support of CMS’s proposed Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) for calendar year 2021. The letter stated that the "proposed MPFS moves toward fundamentally correcting the longstanding undervaluation of primary care services by retaining increases to office-based Evaluation & Management (E/M) services finalized in the CY2020 MPFS and set to take effect this January." The PCC also stated that the increased investment was essential—though not sufficient—to achieving high-performing primary care and that "it must also be accompanied by rapid movement toward global payments that are prospective and comprehensive."

Read the full letter.

PCC Endorses Bill That Would Support Telehealth by Expanding Broadband Coverage

The PCC is among many national organizations throwing their support behind the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy (BRIDGE) Act of 2020, introduced this summer by U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who said the bill will deploy affordable, “future-proof” broadband networks nationwide. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) also supports the legislation, along with dozens of national and state-level elected officials and organizations. 

“The coronavirus pandemic has brought into focus a 21st century reality: access to high-speed, affordable broadband is critical infrastructure that helps Americans across the nation operate their businesses, pursue their education, access telehealth, and interact with their communities,” said King. “Unfortunately, too many rural communities don’t have access to this vital tool, leaving them at risk of being left behind.”

As the regular surveys of primary care clinicians and patients conducted by the PCC and the Larry A. Green Center since March have shown, primary care pivoted to telehealth very quickly when stay-at-home orders were put into place and has depended on it as patients seek care but are not able to visit their primary care practices in person. Telehealth services are dependent on reliable internet networks, and networks moving to unserved and underserved areas will enable primary care to address health inequities, which sometimes follow the technological divides among population groups.

"As the pandemic keeps millions of families at home, it has never been more urgent to extend the benefits of affordable, high-speed broadband to every American,” said Bennet. “For years, the digital divide has prevented up to 42 million Americans—disproportionately from rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, and communities of color—from being able to fully participate in modern American life.”  

In an op-ed published today, Bennet emphasized how the pandemic has pushed Americans to rely on high-speed broadband more than ever to work, learn, and connect remotely. However, up to 42 million Americans still lack access to broadband. Bennet and King’s BRIDGE Act helps close this gap by providing $30 billion to states and $1 billion to tribal governments to deploy broadband in unserved and underserved communities nationwide and ensuring newly built networks meet minimum requirements for speed, service, and affordability. The legislation empowers communities to deploy their own broadband networks if they wish and makes them eligible for financial support. Finally, the legislation accelerates an overhaul of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband maps, which consistently overstate broadband access in America—especially in rural areas.

Read the full text of the bill. (also available: a section-by-section summary and a one-page summary)

Support for the BRIDGE Act from national organizations:

  • Primary Care Collaborative
  • American Library Association
  • American Psychological Association
  • Consumer Reports
  • Fiber Broadband Association
  • Institute for Local Self-Reliance
  • National Association of Realtors
  • National Farmers Union
  • National Rural Health Association
  • Public Knowledge
  • Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband Coalition

 

 

 

 

PCC Among 340 Organizations Sending Letter to Congress Urging Action on Telehealth

PCC is among the 340 organizations that sent a letter today urging congressional leaders to make telehealth flexibilities created during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent. Organizations signing this multi-stakeholder letter include national and regional organizations representing a full range of healthcare stakeholders and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Congress quickly waived statutory barriers to allow for expanded access to telehealth at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing federal agencies with the flexibility to allow healthcare providers to deliver care virtually. If Congress does not act before the COVID-19 public health emergency expires, current flexibilities will immediately disappear.

Therefore, 340 stakeholders have sent a powerful message to Congress outlining the immediate actions necessary to ensure CMS has the authority to continue to make telehealth services available once the national health emergency is rescinded:

  • Remove obsolete restrictions on the location of the patient to ensure that all patients can access care at home and other appropriate locations;
  • Maintain and enhance HHS authority to determine appropriate providers and services for telehealth;
  • Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics can furnish telehealth services after the public health emergency; and
  • Make permanent Health and Human Services (HHS) temporary waiver authority for future emergencies.

While federal agencies can address some of these policies going forward, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) does not have the authority to make changes to Medicare reimbursement policy for telehealth under the outdated Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act. Following these priorities will allow CMS to build on the experience gained during the pandemic and expand access to telehealth in a thoughtful, data-driven way.

Read the letter to Congress, including the list of 340 stakeholders

PCC Joins #saveprimarycare Campaign to Call for Dedicated Funding to Primary Care

Today (June 1) begins a week of national advocacy for primary care. The PCC and many other organizations are part of this campaign, called #saveprimarycare. We are reaching out to Congress and the administration to call for dedicated funding to primary care to help practices continue to serve patients during the public health and economic crisis posed by the coronavirus.

As part of the campaign, PCC, representing over 60 organizations, today sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging him “and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to make an immediate, targeted allocation from the Provider Relief Fund (PRF) to primary care clinicians and/or practices in order to offset reduced revenue and increased costs associated with COVID-19. The targeted allocation that HHS has already made to rural hospitals from the PRF should serve as a model for primary care.”

PCC will also be sharing campaign messages on its Facebook and Twitter pages this week. You are encouraged to join the campaign by reposting our social media messages or your own messages. Be sure your posts (especially on Twitter) include the campaign’s hashtag—#SavePrimaryCare—and tag Secretary Azar (@SecAzar) and his agency HHS (@HHSgov).

The PCC Signs on to Families USA's "Give Families and and States COVID-19 Support Now" Comment Letter

The PCC recently signed on to Families USA's letter to Congress, urging them to pass legislation that provides aid allowing fiscal assistance for the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PCC Supports Kids' Access to Primary Care Act of 2020

PCC is excited to sign on to the American Academy of Pediatrics's letter of support for the Kid's Access to Primary Care Act of 2020. Ensuring that children have consistent access to quality care is essential. The Act would bring Medicaid payments for primary care services back in line with Medicare payment levels, while also expanding the list of eligible clinicians to ensure that people with Medicaid can access the care that they need. 

Senators Capito and Manchin Reintroduce the Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act

The PCC is excited to sign on to the a letter supporting Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) and their efforts to reintroduce the Protecting Jessica Grubb's Legacy Act.  This bipartisan legislation will modernize patient privacy protections and allow for appropriate access to patient information. This will allow the patient to receive safe, effective, whole person care. 

Multi-Stakeholder Coalition Applauds Congress for Bill to Increase Access to Preventative Treatments

June 25, 2019

The Honorable John Thune
511 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Carper
513 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Earl Blumenauer
1111 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Tom Reed
2263 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Congressmen,

On behalf of the Smarter Health Care Coalition (the Coalition) and the undersigned organizations, we are writing to applaud the introduction of the Chronic Disease Management Act of 2019. The Coalition represents a broad-based, diverse group of health care stakeholders, including consumer groups, employers, health plans, life science companies, provider organizations, and academic centers. The Coalition is squarely focused on achieving “smarter health care” by removing barriers to clinically-nuanced health care services and medications. Our goal is to better align health care spending with value, improve the patient experience, and lower health care costs by supporting innovative benefit design that encourages the use of high valuecare, and discourages the use of low-value care.

As such, the Coalition supports your legislation, which would help patients with chronic illness access high-value health care services and medications that ensure optimal health and wellbeing. As you know, approximately half of all Americans have at least one chronic condition and millions struggle to receive the appropriate care due to onerous cost burdens. Studies show that chronic conditions account for $.90 of every dollar spent on health care and, without appropriate management, lead to adverse effects on quality of life. As such, the management of chronic conditions and the prevention of further complications is not only essential to improving health but would ensure a more rational and sustainable health care system.

Yet certain health benefit arrangements face regulatory barriers to ensure patients have access to critical, high-value care. Specifically, when a health savings account (HSA) is paired with a high deductible health plan (HDHP), these plans are generally prohibited from offering services and medications to manage chronic conditions on a pre-deductible basis. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the HSA-HDHP marketplace is expanding rapidly. Studies show the percentage of employers offering HDHPs grew by 25 percent between 2005 and 2018, and the percentage of employees covered by HDHPs over the same period grew by 25 percent.1 Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation’s 2018 Employer Health Benefits Survey shows the average annual deductibles for all plan types have increased 212 percent since 2008.1

The legislation addresses this problem by allowing HSA-eligible HDHPs to provide access to health care services and medications that manage chronic conditions on a pre-deductible basis. Simultaneously, the Coalition continues to work with the Administration by encouraging the Department of the Treasury to utilize existing authority to include chronic disease management as part of the preventive care definition, which would make it possible for employers and health plans to decrease out-of-pocket spending for millions of Americans with chronic conditions.

Enacting this legislation or updating existing guidance would yield enormous benefits to consumers, employers, and payers alike including better health, enhanced workplace productivity, and the avoidance of unnecessary emergency care visits and hospitalizations to the benefit of patients and our health care system overall. Thank you for introducing this important legislation and we look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

America’s Health Insurance Plans
American Benefits Council
American Osteopathic Association
Amgen
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
Eli Lilly
Families USA
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Merck
National Coalition on Health Care
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative
Public Sector Health Care Roundtable
Sanofi
University of Michigan V-BID Center
U.S. Chamber of Commerce


1 Kaiser Family Foundation, 2018 Employer Health Benefits Survey, September 2018, available at, https://www.kff.org/report-section/2018-employer-health-benefits-survey-section-8-high-deductible-health-plans-with-savings-option/

Go to top