Sustainability Beyond Relief: Bolstering our First Line of Care

July 7, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up all facets of the U.S. health care system, and has forced us as a nation to rethink our approach to, and investment in, our first line of health care including public health departments, community health workers, community health clinics, and primary care practices. During this final stretch of the pandemic, COVID-19 continues to blur the lines between traditional public health actions and those completed by the primary care system, such as contact tracing, vaccine deployment, and the need to build trust and develop messages specific to target populations.

This briefing reviewed the opportunities and challenges that have arisen for first line providers and current integration efforts to ensure equitable preventative care for the American public. Experts addressed the role of data sharing, payment systems, and workforce provisions. Panelists also explored long-term policy options, such as opportunities in the American Rescue Plan and other federal levers, to ensure COVID relief and recovery resources are consistent with the broader aim of creating a more stable and resilient public health and primary care infrastructure.


  • Ann Greiner, MCP, President and Chief Executive Officer, Primary Care Collaborative
  • Michelle Morse, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Commissioner, Center for Health Equity and Community Wellness, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  • Rebecca Weintraub, M.D., Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
  • Dora Hughes, M.D., MPH, Associate Research Professor, Department of Health Policy and Management, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University (moderator)

Presentation: Sustainability Beyond Relief: Bolstering our First Line of Care

Event Resources

Recent Legislation

“S.674 – Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act.” Office of Senator Patty Murray. March 10, 2021. Available at

“S.571 – Public Health Funding Prevents Pandemics Act.” Office of Senator Richard Blumenthal. March 3, 2021. Available at

“H.R.1319 – American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” Office of Congressman John Yarmuth. February 24, 2021. Available at

Key Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“The Room Where It Happens: The Role of Primary Care in the Next Phase of the COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign.” Klein, S., Hostetter, M. The Commonwealth Fund. July 7, 2021. Available at

“What Do Americans Think About Getting Vaccinated Against COVID-19?” Shah, A., Schneider, C., Zephyrin, L., et al. The Commonwealth Fund. June 16, 2021. Available at

“Making Health Care Accountable.” Blumenthal, D., Lewis, C. Abrams, M. The Commonwealth Fund. June 9, 2021. Available at

“Summary of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and Provisions Affecting Hospitals and Health Systems.” American Hospital Association. March 17, 2021. Available at

“Vaccine Equity Planner.” Ariadne Labs and Boston Children’s Hospital. 2021. Available at

“Integration of Primary Care and Public Health (Position Paper).” American Academy of Family Physicians. December 2020. Available at

“Redesigning Primary Care to Address the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Midst of the Pandemic.” Krist, A., DeVoe, J., Cheng, A., et al. Annals of Family Medicine. July 2020. Available at

Additional Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with the most recent)

“Inequities in Health and Health Care in Black and Latinx/Hispanic Communities: 23 Charts.” Baumgartner, J., Aboulafia, G., Getachew, Y., et al. The Commonwealth Fund. Available at

“Missing the Point — How Primary Care Can Overcome Covid-19 Vaccine ‘Hesitancy.’” Ratzan, S., Schneider, E., Hatch, H., et al. New England Journal of Medicine. May 5, 2021. Available at

“Landmark Covid Relief Law Pumps More Than $100 Billion Into Public Health.” Findlay, S. Kaiser Health News. March 18, 2021. Available at

“PCDC Testimony: Preserving New York’s Primary Care Safety Net Through COVID-19 and Beyond.” Cohen, L. Primary Care Development Association. February 26, 2021. Available at

“How to Make Health Care Work Better for Everyone: Recommendations from the Commonwealth Fund Task Force on Payment and Delivery System Reform.” Abrams, M., Blumenthal, D., Lewis, C. The Commonwealth Fund. January 26, 2021. Available at

“American COVID-19 Vaccine Poll.” African American Research Collaborative and The Commonwealth Fund. 2021. Available at

“Sustaining Primary Care Teams in the Midst of a Pandemic.” Sullivan, E., Phillips, R. Israel Journal of Health Policy Research. December 28, 2020. Available at

“Private Video Consultation Services and the Future of Primary Care.” Salisbury, C., Quigley, A., Hex, N., et al.  Journal of Medical Internet Research. October 1, 2020. Available at

“Health Care for All: A Framework for Moving to a Primary Care-Based Health Care System in the United States.” American Academy of Family Physicians. December 2019. Available at

“How To Close the Gaps in Care Coordination.” Rosenfeld, J. Medical Economics. June 13, 2019. Available at

“Bringing Competitive Direct Primary Care to Medicare.” Capretta, J. American Enterprise Institute. February 25, 2019. Available at

“How Sharing Data Digitally Benefits Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. July 2018. Available at

“Organizational Factors Influencing Successful Primary Care and Public Health Collaboration.” Valaitis, R., Meagher-Stewart, D., Martin-Misener, R., et al. BMC Health Services Research. June 7, 2018. Available at

“‘Direct Care’ Could Help Ease Medical Costs.” Singer, J. Cato Institute. September 29, 2017. Available at

“Strengthening Public Health as the Foundation of the Health System and First Line of Defense.” Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future and National Academy of Medicine. May 16, 2016. Available at

“Access to Primary Care.” Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. 2014. Available at

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Maria Gomez, R.N., MPH
Mary’s Center, President and Chief Executive Officer

Ann Greiner, MCP
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, President and Chief Executive Officer

Dora Hughes, M.D., MPH
George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, Associate Research Professor

Michelle Morse, M.D.
EqualHealth, Founding Co-Director

Rebecca Weintraub, M.D.
Harvard Medical School, Assistant Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine

Experts and Analysts

Sonia Y. Angell, M.D., MPH
Columbia University Department of Physicians and Surgeons, Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine

Asaf Bitton, M.D., MPH
Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School

Corinne Lewis, MSCE
The Commonwealth Fund, Program Officer, Delivery System Reform

David Rubin, M.D., MSCE
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Director of PolicyLab

Joe Selby, M.D., MPH
Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, Executive Director

Donald Warne, M.D., MPH
University of North Dakota, Director of the Indians Into Medicine and Public Health Programs


Eliseo J. Perez-Stable, M.D.
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Director, National Institutes of Health

Michael D. Warren, MD, MPH, FAAP
Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, Associate Administrator

Hannah Katch, MPP
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Senior Policy Analyst


James S. Blumenstock, M.A.
Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Senior Vice President, Pandemic Response and Recovery

Casey Cooper, BSN, MBA, FACHE
Cherokee Hospital, Chief Executive Officer

Caroline DeFilippo, M.D., MPH, FACP
CareMount Medical, Assistant Medical Director

Rushika Fernandopulle, M.D., MPP
Iora Health, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer

Margaret Flinter, Ph.D., APRN
Community Health Center, Inc., Senior Vice President and Clinical Director

Aletha Maybank, M.D., Ph.D.
American Medical Association, Chief Health Equity Officer and Group Vice President

Marci Nielsen, Ph.D., MPH
Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, President and Chief Executive Officer

Karen VanLandeghem, MPH
National Academy for State Health Policy, Senior Program Director

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