News release

For immediate release
Monday, October 12, 2020

Washington State commits to transforming primary health care

OLYMPIA – Today, insurance payers, representatives from the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA), Governor Jay Inslee’s office, and the Washington State Medical Association celebrated the signing of a memorandum of understanding committing to improve primary care and develop a new payment model in Washington.

“Primary care is the foundation of our health care system and essential to better health outcomes, lower costs, and healthier families and communities,” said HCA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Judy Zerzan. “Evidence shows greater use of primary care is associated with lower costs, higher patient satisfaction, fewer hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and lower mortality rates.”

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has further threatened primary care practices and the viability of our already fragile primary care system. Primary care transformation will help address the continued role of telehealth as a means of care when in-person visits are not possible.

HCA has worked with health plans and primary care providers over the past year to develop the payment model and proposed quality metrics. The goals of the model include:

  • Increase primary care expenditures while decreasing total health spending.
  • Align payment and incentives across payers as well as quality metrics across both payers and providers.
  • Promote and incentivize integrated, whole-person and team-based care. This includes primary care, physical and behavioral health care, and preventive services.
  • Improve provider capacity and access.
  • Work with interested public and private employers to spread and scale the model throughout the state.

Washington’s commitment to improving primary care is aligned with national focus on the issue. The Healthcare Payment Learning and Action Network is holding their annual meeting Tuesday, October 13. Dr. Zerzan will discuss primary care, health disparities, and the strategy to meeting the state’s value-based purchasing goals by 2022.

For more information

HCA’s multi-payer primary care transformation model webpage