Maryland Has 16% Fewer Practicing Physicians Than National Average

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Practicing Physicians

Maryland has 16% fewer physicians in clinical practice than thenational per capita average, a shortage that could become severe by2015, according to a report released on Monday by MedChi,the state's medical society, and the Maryland Hospital Society, theWashington Postreports. For the report, presented last month to the Governor'sTask Force on Health Care Access and Reimbursement, analystsinterviewed administrators at 52 hospitals in the state and severalmedical residency program directors. Analysts also surveyed primaryand specialty care physicians (Levine, Washington Post,1/8).

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According to the report, the state has 179 physiciansdelivering care for every 100,000 residents, below the nationalaverage of 212. In total, the state has about 25,000 licensedphysicians, making it the second-highest rate per capita of anystate, but nearly 40% are nonpracticing and engage in teaching,research and administrative duties, according to the study. Many ofthe nonpracticing physicians work at the state's two large medicalschools or for the federal government. Areas in which the state lacksthe most physicians include: primary care, emergency medicine,anesthesiology, hematology, oncology, thoracic and vascular surgery,psychiatry and dermatology.

The study estimates that thephysician shortage will become worse by 2015 as the state'spopulation ages and physicians retire (Salganik, BaltimoreSun, 1/8). Southern Maryland, followed by westernMaryland and the Eastern Shore, are expected to be hit hardest(Washington Post, 1/8).

The report recommendedthat Maryland do more to attract and retain physicians, mostly byincreasing the rates that insurers pay doctors. The report alsoproposed lowering the cap on malpractice premiums to reduce liabilitypremiums and expanding loan-forgiveness programs to encouragephysicians to practice in the state (Baltimore Sun,1/8). The report does not include a cost estimate for therecommendations. According to the report, "Unless medical andpolitical leaders find ways to reduce physician shortages, patientcare will suffer" (Washington Post, 1/8).

However, some researchers argue that "there's no clearevidence that more physicians make people healthier," theBaltimore Sun reports (Baltimore Sun, 1/8).

Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J.Kaiser Family Foundation.

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