The Associated Press reports:
"Due to increasing medical demands from aging baby boomers, the U.S. faces
a dangerous shortage of primary-care doctors whether sweeping overhaul is
passed or not."
"Several doctors' groups are
backing the legislation, citing in part provisions to expand the work force.
For example, the proposed House legislation would add funds, loan repayment and
training grant programs designed to promote use of specialized nurses,
encourage doctors to work in underserved areas and entice new students into
primary care. Existing medical schools also have begun to increase enrollment,
while new schools are under development from El Paso in West Texas to central
Michigan. Still, it remains to be seen whether the efforts will be far and fast
enough, given the long-standing attraction of medical specialties which offer
students higher salaries and more prestige" (Yen, 9/15).
Newsday reports on the struggles
doctors face, and the issue of malpractice insurance, by looking at the
experience of one obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Stuart Lustberg. Newsday
reports: Lustberg "starts each day at 8:30 a.m., often works until 10 p.m.
at his Huntington office, and is on call seven days a week if one of his patients
goes into labor. Every nine days, he moonlights at Huntington Hospital for a
24-hour shift to take care of emergencies or uninsured patients who walk
through the door. This extra money helps pay his $175,000-a-year malpractice
insurance, which represents 28 percent of the revenue from his medical
"Lustberg said 'tort reform', capping
awards in malpractice lawsuits, would be the single biggest thing legislators
could do to lower health care costs because doctors would no longer feel
compelled to order every test. But he is gloomy about its prospects. In his
speech last week before Congress, President Barack Obama said he would
authorize demonstration projects in some states to look at ways to reduce
malpractice insurance" (Ochs, 9/15).
Source: Kaiser Health News