The May 2010 issue of Health Affairs examines what it will take to reinvent primary care in the United States. Operational, payment, regulatory, legal, and educational reforms will be necessary to improve care and achieve savings —and to prepare for the influx of millions of Americans who will be insured for the first time as of 2014.

On May 4, Health Affairs will host a briefing to examine what policies are needed to increase the corps of primary care providers and to improve practice. The briefing and the journal issue also explore the promising models of care that are likely to produce the best outcomes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been invited to deliver the keynote address. Other speakers include Paul Grundy, director of healthcare transformation at IBM, Troyen Brennan, chief medical officer at CVS Caremark, and other leading experts and educators in primary care and health policy.

When: Tuesday, May 4, 2010, 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Where: National Press Club [Metro Center], Holeman Lounge, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC

RSVP for this event online.

Health Affairs will offer live Twitter updates from the event at #HAprimarycare

Among the topics to be addressed:

  • How can we solve the primary care workforce shortage?
  • Which evolving models of primary care practice show the greatest promise? What opportunities exist for innovation?
  • How can we produce the most successful primary care teams?
  • How should we expand the roles of physician assistants and nurse practitioners?


The primary care system in the United States is in crisis. Sixty-five million Americans live in primary care shortage areas. Partly due to a considerable pay gap between primary care physicians and other practitioners, U.S. medical school graduates are increasingly avoiding careers in primary care, and a major shortage of all types of primary care providers looms. A system that is already strained will face an influx of patients in 2014, when 32 million Americans will have health insurance for the first time. A larger primary care workforce is essential, but new strategies and models are also needed to address the country’s imminent primary care access problem.

Restructuring primary care practice teams can help meet this challenge. For example, barriers to practice that face nurse practitioners and physician assistants in many states must be removed. Updating and modernizing the primary care system is also essential. For example, implementation of the medical home model—a delivery model that is patient-centered and focuses on integrated care—has been proven to improve quality and reduce costs.

This issue of Health Affairs, and the briefing, are supported by the United Healthcare Foundation, California HealthCare Foundation, CVS Caremark, the ABIM Foundation and the American Academy of Physician Assistants.