WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) introduced legislation to expand access to personalized health care. Crenshaw’s legislation – the Direct Primary Care for America Act – expands access to direct primary care, a successful model of health care delivery that allows patients to access primary care without third party insurance or a government intermediary.
“The idea is simple: you should have an affordable monthly fee for a primary-care doctor, without extra charges for visits and without third-party insurance,” said Crenshaw. “This is just one step to answer the call for personalized healthcare from the American people. Empowering Americans with the freedom to choose a doctor they know and trust to provide them with high-quality care will lead to a healthier citizenry and put us on the path to modernized, personal health care for all.”
The Direct Primary Care for America Act includes a bipartisan proposal to allow people to use their health savings account for direct primary care. For at-need communities, Crenshaw’s legislation gives states the flexibility to provide direct primary care to low-income Medicaid recipients.
To address the shortage of direct primary care in rural areas, this bill includes direct primary-care clinics as approved sites for the National Health Service Corps’ Loan Repayment program in areas that have a shortage of primary-care providers.
Relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic, adequate access to primary care is key to reducing comorbidities that contribute to higher rates of COVID fatalities. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 76.4% of COVID-19 deaths had at least one serious underlying condition–most of which are preventable diseases like diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, liver disease and even obesity .
Primary-care providers play a large role in reducing the seriousness of comorbidities. Primary-care providers also reduce emergency room utilization, improve outcomes, and even possibly reduce overall health care spending. Studies have found that higher continuity of primary care–a continuous relationship with a primary care doctor–is associated with lower hospital admissions.
Primary care–especially for at-need communities in rural, low-income areas–is sparse. The patient-to-physician ratio in rural areas is only 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared with 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas. The United States is expected to have a shortage of as many as 55,200 primary-care doctors by 2032..
Representative Crenshaw is soliciting feedback and questions on the Direct Primary Care for America Act. Please submit feedback to DirectPrimaryCare@mail.house.gov.