HHS Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care Seeking Public Comment

Access to high-quality primary health care has been shown to improve health equity and health outcomes, and is essential for addressing key priorities, including: the COVID-19 pandemic; mental and substance use disorder prevention and care; prevention and management of chronic conditions; addressing the impact of gender-based violence; and maternal and child health and well-being. 

Unfortunately, our nation’s primary health care foundation is weakening and in need of support: primary health care is under-resourced; the workforce is shrinking; workforce well-being is in peril; and many practices face reimbursement challenges that may result in financial instability.

The goal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care is to develop a federal foundation for the provision of primary health care for all that supports improved health outcomes and advanced health equity.  The first step is to produce an initial HHS Action Plan in 2022.

The public comment period will be open for 36 days starting June 27, 2022, through August 1 at 11:59 PM ET. HHS is committed to transparency and providing opportunities for public participation during the development of the plan.

Process to Develop the HHS Plan to Strengthen Primary Health Care

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is coordinating development of an HHS Action Plan to Strengthen Primary Health Care by working across HHS agencies and offices as well as with other federal offices and departments. The recently released National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine ReportImplementing High Quality Primary Care: Rebuilding the Foundation of Health Care exit disclaimer iconwill inform the development of the HHS Action Plan.

OASH is using a variety of strategies to engage diverse stakeholders and subject matter experts, including patient, family, and community advocates, to learn about innovative approaches, needs, and challenges to inform the HHS Action Plan.

About the Request for Information

Through this Request for Information (RFI), OASH seeks input from the public about innovations, models, solutions to barriers, and possible HHS actions that may strengthen primary health care to promote health equity, reduce health disparities, improve health care access, and improve health outcomes.

OASH will use the responses to this RFI to inform the development of an initial HHS Action Plan to Strengthen Primary Health Care and subsequent steps for the Initiative that identify key strategies and priority actions to build a federal foundation for strong primary health care for all.

In particular, OASH is interested in input from individuals; paid and unpaid caregivers; communities; community-based organizations; health care providers; professional societies; community health centers and Rural Health Clinics; state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and public health departments; educators; academic researchers; global partners; health insurance payers and purchasers; health technology developers; and policy experts.

Respondents are asked to provide information on any and all of the following topics. 

  1. Successful models or innovations that improve primary health care and help achieve the HHS goal state for primary health care.
  2. Barriers to implementing successful models or innovations.
  3. Successful strategies to engage communities.
  4. Proposed HHS actions.

How to Submit a Public Comment to the Request for Information

Anyone can comment.  Each responding entity (person or organization) is requested to submit only one response via email to OASHPrimaryHealthCare@hhs.gov as a Word document attachment or in the body of an email.  Include “Primary Health Care RFI” in the subject line of the email.

OASH welcomes responses to inform policies and actions to strengthen primary health care.  Respond to one or as many prompts as you choose.  Be concise with your submissions, which must not exceed four pages in 12-point or larger font, with a page number provided on each page.  Responses should include the name of the person(s) or organization(s) filing the comment. 

About the Strengthening Primary Care Initiative

The HHS Initiative to Strengthen Primary Health Care, launched in September 2021, aims to establish a federal foundation that supports advancement toward a goal state of the practice of primary health care.  In its goal state, the practice of primary health care:

  • Supports health and wellness through sustained partnerships with patients, families/caregivers, and their communities;
  • Equitably provides first contact access to all, as well as whole person, comprehensive care over time, using interprofessional teams; and
  • Coordinates and integrates care across systems, including other health care providers, public health, and community-based health promotion and social service organizations.

HHS, Primary Health Care

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