President's Budget Will Help Stem Shortage of Primary Care Physicians

Statement attributable to:
Molly Cooke, MD, FACP
President of the American College of Physicians (ACP)

Washington, March 4, 2014 — The American College of Physicians (ACP) applauds the increased funding for primary care proposed by President Obama in his budget proposal released today. The proposal shows an understanding of the important role that primary care places in ensuring access to high quality and cost-conscious care. Studies show that the United States will need at least 40,000 more primary care physicians for adults by the end of the decade to meet current and anticipated demand.

The president's budget proposal:

  • Adds $5.23 billion over 10 years to train 13,000 primary care residents in high-need communities, and in team-based care, such as accountable care organizations. Increased funding for primary care resident programs in internal medicine, pediatrics and family medicine is essential to reducing a growing primary care shortage.
  • Extends higher Medicaid payments to physicians by one year at a cost of nearly $5.44 billion. This program, which currently is set to expire at the end of 2014, ensures that primary care services provided by internists, family physicians and pediatricians, and associated subspecialties, are paid no less than the comparable Medicare rates. Allowing it to expire would result in a deep, across-the-board cut to primary care physicians who are taking care of the most vulnerable populations, at a time when millions more are becoming eligible for Medicaid. In addition to continuing the program, as the President's budget calls for, ACP supports making physicians who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology eligible for the program if at least 60 percent of their services relate to primary care. The College also advocates that this program be extended for at least two more years.
  • Adds $3.95 billion over the next six years in the National Health Service Corps to support the growth of the program from 8,900 primary care physicians and other providers last year to at least 15,000 annually starting in FY 2015. The NHSC provides scholarships and loan forgiveness for physicians in primary care disciplines and others facing shortages, who meet a service obligation in underserved communities.

Primary care is the bedrock of a high performing, accessible, and high quality healthcare system. The College urges Congress to provide the funding requested by administration to help train the next generation of primary care physicians and stem a growing shortage.

About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 137,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

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