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Primary care physician shortage

ISSUE SUMMARY

A primary care physician workforce that is adequate in both numbers and preparation is central to the goal of attaining accessible, high-quality, and affordable health care for Kansas and the United States. However, the number of primary care practitioners available to care for the population is likely to be insufficient under either the current or a reformed health care system.

In its January 2010 report to the HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and the U.S. Congress, the Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry reported that a well-prepared, effective primary care workforce can reduce health care costs. An increase of just one primary care physician is associated with 1.44 fewer deaths per 10,000 persons. Higher ratios of primary care physicians are associated with reduced hospitalization rates and patients with a regular primary care physician have lower overall health care costs than those without one.

The trend of medical school graduates choosing higher-paid specialties rather than careers in primary care medicine has fueled a growing shortage of primary care doctors in Kansas and throughout the United States, especially in rural and other currently under-served areas. Unless efforts to remedy this crisis are identified, patients may increasingly seek, due to the lack or primary care physicians, to receive their healthcare from allied professionals.

ADOPTED ACTION OR POLICY

KMS believes there is a crucial need to develop educational, legislative and public policy initiatives in Kansas medical schools to fill the growing gap in the primary care workforce. KMS will work with other pertinent stakeholders at the state and national level to develop specific strategies that would expand the number of physicians entering the field of primary care in Kansas.

Adopted by the KMS House of Delegates on May 1, 2010.

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