Apr 16, 2019

Medicare isn't spending much on primary care

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Primary care only accounted for between 2.1% and 4.9% of total Medicare spending in 2015, depending on how primary care is defined, according to a new RAND study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Why it matters: Primary care is a lot cheaper than, say, surgery for a condition that has gotten worse while untreated. We may not know the magic percentage of spending that should go toward primary care, but it's a good thing to consider when we talk about lowering costs.

The big picture: Greater focus on primary care is associated with high quality health care and lower costs.

  • While there's no consensus on what percentage of health care spending should go toward primary care, the RAND estimates are lower than estimates of what other countries spend.

Spending on primary care was lower among beneficiaries who were older, black, Native American, dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and who had chronic conditions. Rates also varied by state.

Go deeper: 44 million Americans live with a primary care shortage

Go deeper

Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.