Lack of Primary Care Doctors Real Issue for ACA

This morning, the Washington Post ran an article about a serious challenge to successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): the lack of primary care medical providers. The passage of the ACA means that millions of Americans will be looking for a primary care doctors but recent estimates conclude that there won’t be enough doctors to see them.  By 2015 the anticipated shortfall of providers is 29,800.

Today’s article analyzes the factors contributing a medical student’s decision whether to pursue primary care or a specialty practice.  Among others, the cost of medical education and the earning potential of primary care doctors factor heavily into a resident’s decision about the focus of their future career. Moreover, many hospitals build residency programs around specialty areas instead of primary care in order to draw down increased Medicare reimbursement.  And while the Affordable Care Act  did include some funding to incentivize primary care, $167 million in the Prevention and Public Health Fund, that funding is slated to run out in 2015.

-Jaime Venditti, 2/13/12