Within a decade, a third of all U.S. physicians will hang up their stethoscopes for good and step into retirement while the supply of doctors will grow by only 7%, says a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In Massachusetts, the first state to adopt near-universal healthcare, the shortage of doctors is already being felt. When (if?) the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act fully rolls out and millions are added to the rolls of the insured, the demand for doctors will only accelerate.
Amid all the anguish over changes to come from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, perhaps this is the most daunting: the expected doubling in size of the patient load. But relief may come from community health centers, which have an important role to play in training future primary care docs, says this report.
So the announcement this week that philanthropist and NFL team owner Robert Kraft is giving $20 million to Partners Healthcare System to fund The Kraft Family National Center for Leadership and Training in Community Health to train community-based physician leaders comes at a very good time, not only for Massachusetts, but for the country (the center will be a national resource) and for healthcare philanthropy, which has been brutally battered by the recession.