Tuesday, January 29, 2013

U.S. facing shortage of 16,000 doctors as health care act kicks in

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The United States needs 16,000 more primary care physicians to meet its current health care needs, a problem that will only get worse if nothing is done to accommodate millions of newly-insured residents under President Obama’s health care law in the coming decade, according to a Senate report released Tuesday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging that released the findings, said one in five sick Americans visits an emergency room for care that should have been rendered by a primary care physician, an unfortunate trend that results in higher health care costs and poorer outcomes for patients.
The lack of primary care offices hits rural regions and low-income urban areas the hardest, and will turn into a crisis if lawmakers and the industry do not address the problem before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands coverage to 30 million more Americans, Mr. Sanders said Tuesday at the outset of a hearing on the topic.
Medical school graduates have been flocking to lucrative specialty fields that will pay nearly $3 million more than primary care positions over the course of their careers, an attractive option to students who face an average of $160,00 in debt after medical school, Mr. Sanders said.
“In simple terms, a specialist will make twice what a generalist makes … That is a huge problem,” Fitzhugh Mullan, a professor of medicine and health policy at George Washington University, testified before Mr. Sanders' subcommittee on Tuesday.

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/29/us-shortage-16000-doctors-health-care-act-kicks-in/#ixzz2JPyxlt00