Up to half of primary care physicians are unsure of whether they will have the financial resources to keep their primary care practices open, according to a new survey by the Primary Care Collaborative. Worse: One out of every five primary care practices is predicted to temporarily close its facilities in the next four weeks.
The alarming results are contributed to a mixture of factors including strained financial resources and the inability to obtain personal protective equipment (PPE) for them and their staff. Among the survey’s main findings:
- 53% of practices lack PPE, while 58% of practices report resorting to using homemade or previously used PPE.
- 47% of practices report being unsure of whether they will be able to remain open due to lack of cash flow.
- 43% of practices see cash flow problems stemming from a lack of patients as people steer clear of medical facilities as the outbreak continues to rage.
- While many practices report being open to virtual consultations, 65% of clinicians reported that they have patients who can’t use virtual health services due to lack of computers or internet access.
The results paint a dire picture not just for America’s private primary care practices, but for the patients who rely on them. Should those practices go under or be forced to close even temporarily, millions of Americans could find themselves without access to local care—this is especially true for Americans who live in rural areas.
Announcing the results of its survey, the Primary Care Collaborative implored Congress to pass a fourth stimulus bill aimed at supporting America’s primary care practices:
Congress must take rapid and decisive action with the 4th stimulus bill to make sure that America’s primary care practices are not shuttered, including investing in a Medicare and Medicaid per patient monthly payment (for the balance of 2020). Additional support must be provided to America’s independent, rural, and safety net clinicians taking care of the country’s most vulnerable patients as data reveals low income and racial minority patients experiencing far greater disparities in COVID-related health outcomes (consistent with U.S. known health inequities).
Primary Care Collaborative carried out its survey between April 10-13. In total, 2,602 clinicians took part in the survey.