The Changing Landscape of Primary Care: Effects of the ACA and Other Efforts Over the Past Decade

Publisher: Health Affairs
Mar 02, 2020
Authors
Deborah Peikes, Erin Fries Taylor, Ann S. O’Malley, and Eugene C. Rich

Key Findings:

  • Although we have made considerable progress in understanding how to implement and support different approaches to improving primary care delivery in the decade since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, evaluations showed little progress in spending or quality outcomes.
  • This might be because none of the models fundamentally changed primary care payment or offered strong incentives for other providers in the health system to coordinate with primary care to reduce costs and improve quality.

Providing high-quality primary care is key to improving healthcare in the United States. The Affordable Care Act sharpened the emerging focus on primary care as a critical lever to use in improving health care delivery, lowering costs, and improving the quality of care. We describe primary care delivery system reform models that were developed and tested over the past decade by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation—which was created by the Affordable Care Act—and reflect on key lessons and remaining challenges. Considerable progress has been made in understanding how to implement and support different approaches to improving primary care delivery in that decade, though evaluations showed little progress in spending or quality outcomes. This may be because none of the models was able to test substantial increases in primary care payment or strong incentives for other providers to coordinate with primary care to reduce costs and improve quality.