Scaling Innovation: Supporting Access and Equity in Primary Care Through New Payment Models

Monday, December 13, 2021

This panel discusses how Californians can work together to realize a future vision for primary care that addresses the issues of unequal access and disparities in health outcomes.

The recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) report on “Implementing High-Quality Primary Care” emphasized that primary care is unique among health services for its contribution to health and equity, making it an essential common good for society. Not only is a stronger primary care system required in the U.S. to take care of America’s health care needs over the majority of a person’s lifetime, but investment in primary care has the power to improve health equity more than any other part of our health care system.

Immediate and concerted action is needed by payers serving the same communities to collaborate on how they pay for primary care to improve health equity and address disparities in care.


Dr. Asaf Bitton is the executive director of Ariadne Labs, and a senior advisor for primary care policy at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. He is a founder of the Primary Health Care Performance Initiative, which includes 20+ countries, the World Bank, WHO, UNICEF, and the Gates Foundation. Dr. Bitton is an associate professor of medicine and health care policy at both Harvard Medical and public health School. He currently serves on the National Advisory Council for Healthcare Research at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in the US.

Christopher Koller is president of the Milbank Memorial Fund, a 100+ year old operating foundation that improves population health by connecting leaders with the best information and experience. Before joining the Fund, Mr. Koller served the State of Rhode Island as the country’s first health insurance commissioner, from 2005 and 2013. He was a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Health Care Services Board and has served on three NAM committees and in numerous national and state health policy advisory capacities. Mr. Koller is a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Health Services, Policy and Practice in the School of Public Health at Brown University.

Shruti Kothari leads Industry Initiatives for Blue Shield of California, focusing on industry alignment to scale health care transformation. Previously, Shruti led Strategic Engagement for Kaiser Permanente’s venture capital fund, and has worked as an early stage startup operator, healthcare system quality improvement leader, and health educator. Shruti is on the board for Family Caregiver Alliance, and an Advisor for the End Well Foundation. She is the founder of Women of Community which works to increase representation of Women of Color in healthcare leadership. Follow Women of Community on Instagram and LinkedIn @womenofcommunity --

Dr. Sunita Mutha directs Healthforce Center and is professor of medicine and primary care physician at the UCSF. Healthforce Center works to define issues and influence health policy with rigorous analysis and actionable, unbiased information that builds leadership capacity. She has served on national committees guiding the development of hospital standards for culturally competent patient-centered care. She's been on the board of directors for Brown and Toland Medical Group, and currently sits on the board of directors for the Insure the Uninsured Project (ITUP).

Dr. Stella Safo is a board-certified HIV primary care physician, public health advocate, and the founder of Just Equity for Health, a health care improvement company that uses advocacy, education, and care model design to ensure equitable care delivery across all sectors of medicine. She is a founding member of several organizations dedicated to equity and civic engagement in medicine, including Equity Now at Mount Sinai, Civic Health Alliance and the Coalition to Advance Antiracism in Medicine. Dr. Safo's work has been featured in academic and popular media, including CNN and MSNBC.