Not Enough Doctors In Massachusetts To Care For Newly Insured
There arenot enough primary care physicians in Massachusettsto meet the demand for care created by the state's health insurance law,according to health care reform advocates and medical professionals, the Boston Globe reports. Jon Kingsdale, executive director ofthe Commonwealth Health InsuranceConnector Authority,said that as of Jan.1, about 340,000 state residents, most of whom hadpreviously been uninsured, are now insured through state programs.
Bruce Auerbach, president of the MassachusettsMedical Society,said, "What [the Massachusettshealth insurance law] has done is highlighted the crisis and the problem thatwe have with the primary care work force." A medical society study foundthat in 2006, 53% of patients who had an appointment with a PCP were able tosee a doctor within one week of initiating contact, compared with 42% in 2007.
Carroll Eastman, medical director of the Joseph M. SmithCommunity Health Center, said new clinic patients must make appointments two to three months inadvance. She said, "The health center already has 1,000 more patients thancan be comfortably accommodated," and that number does not include the 500to 1,000 new Commonwealth Care beneficiaries who have chosen theclinic as their primary care site but have not yet been seen by a physician.
John McDonough, executive director of Health Care forAll, said, "Wethink that health reform has moved the work force issue toward a much moreprominent place." State officials and health care advocates are trying toincrease recruitment of physicians through a medical school loan repaymentprogram, and the state Legislature is considering legislation (SB 2526) thatwould establish a primary care recruitment center in the state. However, somehealth care advocates and providers say that the real problem is that the stateunderestimated the number of uninsured residents (Perez-Brennan, BostonGlobe, 5/29).
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