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Lawmakers Mull SGR Options

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 8, 2013

Physician shortage
Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) noted that a physician shortage is looming. "We need to figure out how to bring the joy of medicine back into medicine… that sense of buoyancy and… instead of just check[ing] the box and feeling defensive about the whole environment." He quoted recent figures from the Association of American Medical Colleges which projects a physician shortage in 2020 of "at least 91,000 physicians and by 2025 a shortage of at least 135,000 physicians.

Despite a robust enrollment forecast, 40% of medical school deans recently surveyed by the Association of American Medical Schools have expressed "major concern" that the number of available residency training positions will fall short.

Timing
How much time will be necessary to make the transition from volume to value? Panelists seem to agree on three to five years. Can the pace be accelerated? Dr. Hoyt said investment in information systems, including data registries as well as EMR, will be necessary to move more quickly. Incentivizing physician behavior and physician collaboration will be critical.

Rep. Brady expects to schedule additional hearings to explore alternatives to the SGR. In a prepared statement he said, "while the timing is ripe for action, we need to be sure we get the policy right. My hope is that we can put the days of kicking the SGR can down the road behind us."


Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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