Analysis: Time is Running Out to Fix Physician Shortage

Healthcare reform is expected to exacerbate the current primary care physician shortage from 25,000 physicians to 45,000 by 2020, according to a policy analysis from the National Institute for Health Care Reform (pdf).

The analysis says the policies in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that are intended to address physician shortages may not lead to a large, nor immediate, benefit. These policies include awarding grants to primary care training programs, creating new primary care residency programs, providing scholarships for students planning to study primary care and providing bonus Medicare payments to PCPs.

The institute says that, even if these PPACA policies are effective in bringing new PCPs into the workforce, they may still be insufficient given the time it takes to train physicians.

The institute calculates that if these policies increase PCPs annually by 20 percent, 600 additional PCPs would enter the workforce each year. By 2020, there would be 6,000 new PCPs in the workforce — "still well under the American Association of Medical Colleges' predicted need of about 45,000," according to the paper.

Related Articles on Physician Shortages:

Study: Wisconsin Needs 100 New Physicians Each Year Through 2030
Maryland to Increase Primary Care Workforce by 25% by 2020
Medical School Applications, Enrollment Up in 2011

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