Health reform to worsen doctor shortage: group

Daily News Article   —   Posted on October 1, 2010

(from Reuters.com) – The U.S. healthcare reform law will worsen a shortage of physicians as millions of newly insured patients seek care, the Association of American Medical Colleges said on Thursday.

The group’s Center for Workforce Studies released new estimates that showed shortages would be 50 percent worse in 2015 than forecast.

“While previous projections showed a baseline shortage of 39,600 doctors in 2015, current estimates bring that number closer to 63,000, with a worsening of shortages through 2025,” the group said in a statement.

“The United States already was struggling with a critical physician shortage and the problem will only be exacerbated as 32 million Americans acquire health care coverage, and an additional 36 million people enter Medicare.”

Medicare is the federal health insurance plan for people over the age of 65, and census projections show that group growing as the giant baby boomer generation born from 1946 to 1964 hits retirement age.

The U.S. healthcare reform plan signed into law by President Barack Obama in March is designed to provide insurance to 32 million Americans who now lack it.

The AAMC projected a shortage of 33,100 physicians in specialties such as cardiology, oncology and emergency medicine in 2015.

It calls for Congress to increase funding to train new doctors. “The number of medical school students continues to increase, adding 7,000 graduates every year over the next decade,” the AAMC said.

It said at least 15 percent more were needed.

Other groups, such as the nonprofit Rand Corporation and the Institute of Medicine, have also projected various physician shortages.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Thomson Reuters. Visit the website at Reuters.com.

Questions

1. What is the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)?

2. What announcement did the AAMC make this week? Be specific.

3. What factor does the AAMC say will contribute to the shortage of doctors?

4. What other groups have also projected a shortage of doctors in the U.S.?

5. What does the AAMC call on Congress to do to solve the problem?

6. a) Besides those mentioned in this article, what factors do you think will contribute to a shortage of doctors in the U.S. in the future?
b) Aside from AAMC’s call for Congress to increase funding to train new doctors, what do you think could/should be done to address the doctor shortage problem?


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Background

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC and established in 1876. It is involved in the accreditation of M.D.-granting medical schools and teaching hospitals in the U.S. (and Canada). It is also the administrator of the Medical College Admission Test, also known as the MCAT.