Primary care is struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic brought revenue reductions and increased costs. Next in line for many practices may be imminent closure.
So, we reached out to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and strongly recommended that immediate, targeted Provider Relief Funds (PRF) be allocated to primary care practices.
Primary care visits have dropped by nearly 50%. On top of that, nearly half of primary care clinicians have laid off or furloughed staff. Two-thirds are getting paid for less than half the care they deliver, and 45% are unsure if they can remain open even another month. The situation is dire and unacceptable.
Unfortunately, telehealth has not offset the loss in patient visits. and virtual care lacks full payment parity across all payers.
We recognize that if no action is taken, many practices may be forced to close or sell to investors. This will likely increase costs. And that’s not good.
NCQA has a vision of a more effective health care system based on value. We envision less red tape and more informed, empowered patients. The commitment to Provider Relief Funds is the answer. These funds will help rescue primary care before COVID-19 further damages these vital practices and the millions of Americans who rely on them.
We are urging this immediate release of funds. American patients and clinicians need this. The future depends on it.