A normally very respectable and reliable source of healthcare observations, the Center for Studying Health System Change (CSHSC), had a bad day recently. A report by one of its fellows for the Commonwealth Fund modeled “real-world” parameters found that if primary care physicians were paid more, Medicare could save 2%.
Two percent?!! Are they kidding?
This estimate flies in the face of more telling real world examples of well-supported family medicine delivering 20-30% deceases in overall healthcare costs. Examples include observations by Baicker and Chandra, recent experience in some of the PCMH demonstration projects, and the results of new primary care models delivered by QuadMed and WeCare (though the overall cost decrease percentages in the PCMH approaches are less than other models. I think it’s because of the cost of some of the PCMH baggage that these clinics carry in addition to the family physicians).
Family medicine is already misunderstood my much of the American people and its leaders. It’s a shame when institutions such as the CSHSC and the Commonwealth Fund blow a chance to rectify this.