Bill Would Cover Primary-care Visits That Patients Often Skip
May 23, 2018 03:01 pm News Staff – The AAFP this week called on Congress to pass the recently introduced Primary Care Patient Protection Act, which would make it easier for patients with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) to see their primary care physicians.
Reps. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., introduced the bill(www.congress.gov) on May 17. It would require HDHPs to cover two primary-care office visits each plan year. This would “bring necessary health services within the financial reach of millions of Americans,” AAFP President Michael Munger, M.D., of Overland Park, Kan., said in a May 22 statement.
“Ensuring patients have access to a usual source of care, a family physician, and meaningful coverage will equate to better overall health at a lower cost,” Munger added. “Being able to receive care in this setting will be less expensive for individuals and families than pursuing care at other sites, such as emergency rooms. This legislation removes a portion of the financial obstacle that may prevent people from pursuing primary care services when they are sick.”
In May 21 letters to Stefanik(2 page PDF) and Schneider(2 page PDF) signed by Board Chair John Meigs M.D., of Centreville, Ala., the AAFP praised the bill as a “common sense, patient-centered, value-based proposal” that would allow persons and families with HDHPs certain access to their primary-care physicians.
The AAFP supports HDHPs as innovative coverage structures that reduce monthly premiums and make healthcare coverage more affordable to many Americans. In 2005, only a million people in the United States were enrolled in an HDHP; in 2017, 22 million Americans were covered by HDHPs.