KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Med Schools Say Doctor Shortage To Worsen Under New Health Law

The new health law will worsen the physician shortage as newly insured patients seek care, according to a new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

"The group's Center for Workforce Studies released new estimates that showed shortages would be 50 percent worse in 2015 than forecast," Reuters reports. "'While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025,' the group said in a statement. 'The United States already was struggling with a critical physician shortage and the problem will only be exacerbated as 32 million Americans acquire health care coverage, and an additional 36 million people enter Medicare.'" The AAMC report also "calls for Congress to increase funding to train new doctors. 'The number of medical school students continues to increase, adding 7,000 graduates every year over the next decade,' the AAMC said. It said at least 15 percent more were needed" (Cooney, 9/30).

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: "The doctor deficit will occur in both primary care and specialties since many of these new patients will suffer from previously untreated conditions - such as heart disease - for which they will need more complex care, Atul Grover, chief advocacy officer of the AAMC, tells the Health Blog. Over the long haul, however, the projected physician shortfall won't differ dramatically from the current estimate of 130,000 by 2025. That's because many of those who are new to the health-care system will move on to Medicare, the government insurance plan for the elderly, says Grover. … The shortfall could be reduced by increasing the number of slots available for residency training as well as 'making better use' of other health professionals like nurses, physician assistants and technicians, Grover says" (Wang, 9/30).

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