KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Pediatric Specialists And Pharmacists May Get Boost From Health Bills

News outlets report on how the health care bill pending in Congress might affect pediatric specialists and pharmacists.

"A growing shortage of pediatricians trained in specialties such as neurology, gastroenterology, and developmental and behavioral medicine is threatening timely access to care for children, according to pediatric medical groups," The Wall Street Journal reports. "As the House and Senate intensify the process of melding their two health bills, pediatric groups are lobbying to secure more funding for training and higher reimbursement for pediatric sub-specialties, in the hope of encouraging more doctors-in-training to enter the field. … At present, 17 states lack at least one physician in one of 13 sub-specialties. … Of particular concern, given the rise in autism-related disorders, is a shortage of development-behavioral experts; half of hospitals in the survey reported that it takes more than three months to see a developmental pediatrics specialist, one of the longest wait times" (Landro, 1/12).

The Washington Post reports that pharmacists may also get a boost under the health bills. "Pharmacists, particularly those who … work for large national chains, are moving into areas that have long been the exclusive province of doctors and nurses: providing immunizations for diseases including H1N1 influenza, screening for chronic health conditions such as diabetes, counseling patients about the increasing panoply of medications they are prescribed and, in a sour economy with dwindling access to health insurance and primary care, offering basic medical advice. Health-care reform legislation would probably increase pharmacists' involvement in patient care by expanding reimbursement for certain kinds of medication counseling" (Boodman, 1/12).

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