Primary care is the essential backbone of any health care system, particularly for Medicaid populations, which may be more likely to face barriers to care. With more than two-thirds of the nation’s Medicaid beneficiaries enrolled in comprehensive managed care, strengthening primary care delivery through managed care levers offers one option to improve access, quality, and efficiency of health care services for this population. As the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the delivery of primary care and the financial viability of providers, states are seeking new strategies to shore up the primary care system. This webinar, made possible by The Commonwealth Fund, will focus on state innovations for advancing primary care through Medicaid managed care with a focus on considerations for supporting primary care in the COVID-19 context.

Drawn lessons from the Center for Health Care Strategies’ (CHCS) Advancing Primary Care Innovation in Medicaid Managed Care (PCI) initiative, the webinar examined state approaches to advancing primary care and review considerations for states contemplating changes to their primary care systems. A panel of state and health plan leaders discussed opportunities to sustain and strengthen primary care for Medicaid beneficiaries in the current environment.

YouTube video


I. Welcome and Introductions

Speakers: Tricia McGinnis, MPP, MPH, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, CHCS; Laurie Zephyrin, MD, MPH, MBA Vice President, Delivery System Reform, The Commonwealth Fund

T. McGinnis welcomed participants and provided an overview of the PCI initiative. L. Zephyrin described how the PCI initiative fits within The Commonwealth Fund’s portfolio of efforts focused on innovation in primary care, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

II. State Levers to Drive Primary Care Innovation

Speaker: Kelsey Brykman, MS, Program Officer, CHCS

K. Brykman set the context, providing an overview of the core features of comprehensive primary care, including: addressing health-related social needs, integrating behavioral health into primary care, using technology to improve access to care, and enhancing team-based care. She described key managed care levers to promote these features: (1) setting contract expectations and incentives; (2) advancing stable and flexible payment models; and (3) rebalancing spending through investment.

III. Panel Discussion: Advancing Primary Care in the Time of COVID-19

Moderator: Tricia McGinnis, CHCS

Panelists: David Kelley, MD, MPA, Chief Medical Officer, Pennsylvania Department of Human Service’s Office of Medical Assistance Programs; David Labby, MD, PhD, Health Strategy Advisor, Health Share of Oregon; Judy Zerzan, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, Washington State Health Care Authority

Panelists described their state and health plan experiences and offered insights for states contemplating new strategies to advance primary care.

IV. Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Tricia McGinnis, CHCS