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AAFP President Says Health Reform Bill a Good Start for Addressing Physician Shortage

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, December 28, 2009

There are some other wrinkles that must be ironed out. Heim says the Senate version extends the bonuses for five years. "We think that needs to be permanent," she says. "They also have a limit for physicians who their primary care is 60% or more of their practice. We think 50% would be more realistic."

This is not a complicated issue. For healthcare reform to succeed there has to be a very strong base of primary care physicians serving as medical traffic cops, directing and coordinating care. It's not for lack of interest that this country has a shortage of primary care physicians. The money isn't there. That has to change, and that change has to be initiated by the federal government. It's that simple. Getting there is the problem.

"Medical students, when I talk with them, they want to go into primary care. That is what most of them thought about when they thought about being a doctor," Heim says. "Now as we are rolling out the patient-centered medical home and it's getting more accepted, students are excited about that way of providing care and getting off the treadmill and providing high quality personal care. But, they keep looking at their debt and the difference in salary, so going back to look at that is important."


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John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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