The Legislative Council Study Committee on Direct Primary Care (DPC) held its third and what is expected to be its final meeting on September 18. The Study Committee used the meeting to hear more testimony from consumers of direct primary care and to go over options for recommendations to bring forward.
The meeting began with the Committee hearing from a panel of three consumers who utilize direct primary care from the practices of two council members, Tim Murray, MD of Solstice Health and Suzanne Gehl, MD. Their patients gave positive reviews of their experience highlighting ease of access and cost as reasons for choosing DPC. One patient noted that the low entry price made DPC attractive for her due to being previously uninsured and currently on a high-deductible health insurance plan. The other patient said he enjoys the quick access to his provider via cell phone, email, and text, which can bring peace of mind when he or a family member is ill.
Some of the Committee members noted that many traditional health plans and providers make their primary care practitioners similarly available to their patients and suggested the Committee focus on how DPC is unique mainly from a payment structure, rather than a difference in how care is provided. Other members questioned whether consumers are fully aware of what is and is not covered under their DPC membership. Panel members responded they feel their DPC providers are upfront with what is covered under the membership fee.
The meeting concluded with members questioning what recommendations should be brought forward and debating clarifying in statute that DPC is not insurance while defining adequate consumer protections. After an extensive discussion, Chair Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) said it was clear there was not consensus about recommending such legislation, and also mentioned that members did not feel there was enough consensus to move forward recommendations for a Medicaid pilot, which had been discussed previously.
The Committee then discussed bringing forward a recommendation that the State Department of Employee Trust Funds study how a pilot could be developed for state employees, which members agreed to. The Committee concluded its work and thanked members for their time. WHA will follow the final recommendations that come forward from the Committee and would like to thank WHA members Maureen McNally and Bob Van Meeteren for their important contributions to the work of this study committee.