Primary care improves individual and community health, enhances health equity, and lowers health care costs. Research shows that people who receive primary care are significantly more likely to get preventive care like cancer screenings, flu shots, and counseling related to eating well, exercising, and quitting smoking. Patients engaged in primary care are better able to manage chronic diseases like diabetes and asthma and have healthier outcomes. And primary care saves money; better access to it is associated with fewer hospital visits, fewer emergency department visits, and fewer surgeries. Yet, we underinvest in primary care, and too many New Yorkers—especially New Yorkers of color—have difficulty getting care when they need it.
Our overarching goal is to expand, advance, and enhance primary care across New York State. To achieve this goal, we focus on three intersecting strategies, which will be shaped and refined as we move ahead: (1) expanding primary care access and capacity; (2) strengthening the primary care workforce; and (3) advancing racial health equity.
Enhancing Primary Care in New York State
Primary care is often patients’ first point of contact in the health care system. High-quality primary care provides ongoing, relationship-based care that meets the health needs and preferences of individuals, families, and communities.
New York State is in a unique moment to have an impact on our primary care system. There are glaring problems and inequities in our health system—a lack of primary care capacity, provider and staff burnout and shortages, deep and enduring racial and ethnic disparities in care and outcomes, and a need for more preventive care. There is also momentum at the State and federal levels to increase primary care investment and opportunities to develop coordinated models of care as New York implements Medicaid redesign.
Expanding primary care access and capacity: Projects will drive increased financial investment in primary care, especially in shortage areas. Projects will preserve, facilitate, or expand access to care—especially in ways that have potential for replication across New York State or for catalyzing policy and systems change. For example, projects could:
- Measure and rebalance health care spending to properly support primary care.
- Provide technical assistance for providers in underserved areas to access federal and State funding opportunities.
- Test and expand models that support patients in accessing care through telehealth.
Given our modest grantmaking, NYHealth is not able to support capital or other expansion expenses; start-up support for new service lines; equipment purchases; or lending capital.
Strengthening the primary care workforce: Projects will elevate, integrate, and expand the roles of the non-clinical workforce—people who are often members of the communities they serve—in primary care teams. Doing so will improve equitable care and patient health outcomes, support career advancement, and reduce strain on clinicians.
For example, projects could:
- Test or expand models to enhance the role of Medical Assistants in primary care teams.
- Help secure sustainable sources of support for Community Health Workers.
- Create, update, expand, and/or standardize training or credentialing.
Given our modest grantmaking, NYHealth is not able to support training, recruitment, or retention of clinicians into primary care practices.
Advancing racial health equity: While racial equity is embedded across all of our work, we are committed to a specific, explicit strategy that both improves the delivery of primary care to address racial health disparities and leverages primary care as a vehicle to advance health and wellbeing in communities of color.
For example, projects could:
- Leverage Medicaid managed care programs to provide incentives for equitable care.
- Stratify clinical and/or patient experience data by race/ethnicity and undertake quality improvement initiatives.
- Include patients of color in health system governance and practice design.
Given our modest grantmaking, NYHealth is not able to support site-specific efforts to integrate primary care with oral, behavioral, or reproductive health without policy and systems change implications.
With our commitment not only to make grants, but also to inform policy and share what works, we will prioritize projects that disseminate best practices, lay the groundwork for replication across New York State, support policy and systems change, and are explicitly committed to enhancing equity. NYHealth does not support general operating, capital, or lobbying expenses.
For more information about this priority area, please contact Program Officer
As a Program Officer at the New York Health Foundation (NYHealth), Ali Foti leads NYHealth’s priority area of primary care, which aims to expand primary care access and capacity, strengthen the primary care workforce, and advance racial health equity.
Ms. Foti is a public health practitioner with diverse experience in health philanthropy, consumer advocacy, and health care provider education. Prior to joining NYHealth, Ms. Foti was a program officer with the Mt. Sinai Health Foundation in Cleveland, Ohio. Ms. Foti formulated Mt. Sinai’s strategic grantmaking strategies in maternal and child health, early childhood mental health, and Medicaid financing of population health initiatives. Previously, Ms. Foti worked with the Institute for Patient-Centered Initiatives and Health Equity at the George Washington University Cancer Center, where she designed clinician trainings on equitable and patient-centered approaches to cancer treatment and research. At the National Partnership for Women & Families, she coordinated federal government relations on behalf of a national coalition of consumer advocates striving to increase consumer access to their health information and incorporate consumer voices into health care payment and delivery system reform.
Ms. Foti holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan and a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
As with other NYHealth priority areas, we conduct grantmaking through open, competitive Requests for Proposals (RFPs) and projects developed in collaboration with grantees. We encourage you to reach out to discuss your ideas, needs, and experiences. Sign up for Primary Care e-mail updates here to get the latest information about new developments and funding opportunities (projected to be released in the first half of 2023).