Advanced Practitioners Key to Expanding Primary Care

Chelsea Rice, December 17, 2012

The nation's growing need for primary care providers is well documented. The numbers are staggering, and they are ratcheting up.

A study published in the November/December 2012 issue of the Annals of Family Medicine, projects that by 2025, the United States will need an additional 52,000 primary care physicians.

This figure surpasses research published by the American Association of Medical Colleges, which predicted a 46,000 primary care physician shortage by 2025. And it trumps the research published in 2008 in Health Affairs, which determined that the country would be short 44,000 primary care physicians by 2025.

Massachusetts provides a current case study of the issues around insurance expansion and primary care utilization and access. Even with the second highest state ratio of primary care physicians to population, primary care wait times increased in 2006 after the state passed its health insurance mandate.

"Reports that there were increased wait times were particularly with populations where more people were on public insurance, and particularly in places where there was a shortage of physicians, especially in rural and lower income areas," says Winston Liaw, MD, MPH, an  assistant professor at the Fairfax Family Medicine Residence Program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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