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How will health reform affect the physician supply?

A recent Congressional Research Service report looks at the physician supply and how the Affordable Care Act may affect it. The adequacy of the physician supply is examined from three dimensions: its size, composition [primary care vs specialties], and its geographic distribution.

The provisions of the Affordable Care Act that may impact physician demand are also reviewed; these include changes in physician training, compensation, and practice. How these ACA provisions will ultimately affect the physician supply is not yet known because the provisions are temporary or not yet implemented, will not have immediate effects, or rely on discretionary spending.

While the answer to the question about how health reform will affect the physician supply is still murky, the report provides useful background information. It concludes:

“The current and future physician supply may be inadequate. Some experts suggest that there are too few physicians overall, too few primary care physicians specifically, and that physicians are inadequately distributed throughout the United States. The ACA may intensify some of these concerns…[but] it is not yet known whether and how these provisions will affect physician supply.”

Source: Heisler EJ. Physician supply and the Affordable Care Act. Congressional Research Service, Jan. 15, 2013. http://op.bna.com/hl.nsf/id/myon-93zpre/$File/crsdoctor.pdf

Related Sources:

Huang ES and Finegold K. Seven million Americans live in areas where demand for primary care may exceed supply by more than 10 percent. Health Affairs 32(3):1, Mar. 2013. http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2013/02/19/hlthaff.2012.0913.full.pdf+html

Petterson SM and others. Projecting US primary care physician workforce needs: 2010-2025. Annals of Family Medicine 10(6):503, Nov/Dec 2012. http://annfammed.org/content/10/6/503.full.pdf+html

Recent studies and reports on physician shortages in the US. Center for Workforce Studies, Association of American Medical Colleges, Oct. 2012. https://www.aamc.org/download/100598/data/recentworkforcestudies.pdf

Posted by AHA Resource Center (312) 422-2050, rc@aha.org

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