News Roundup: SGR's Days Are Numbered; Drug Shortage Persists

Jacqueline Fellows, February 13, 2014

The end of the sustainable growth rate formula is finally in sight, but the nation's primary care shortage and persistent drug shortage also made headlines this week.

The biggest news story affecting physicians over the past week was the long-awaited announcement that a bipartisan deal has been reached to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula. Once Congress figures out how to pay for it, the doc fix will done.

While that story rightly got most of the media spotlight, other developments affecting physicians should not go unnoticed:

UT Bill Seeks 'Pipeline' to Primary Care
New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, a Democrat, has introduced federal legislation aimed at increasing the number of primary care services in his state. Only one county in the southwest state is not federally recognized as having a shortage of PCPs.

Udall's bill calls for what he calls a "pipeline" that would supply more primary care services to underserved areas. It's a mix of incentives for medical students to pursue providing care in a rural setting, funding centers that focus on rural healthcare, and "refocusing" funding for graduate medical education.

The pipeline strategy Udall wants to use is one that the American Academy of Family Physicians has recommended, too. Ted Epperly, MD, former AAFP president, suggested at a recent rural healthcare forum in Washington D.C. that developing a future workforce of physicians who want to work in rural areas could begin very early—with K-12 students.

Jacqueline Fellows

Jacqueline Fellows is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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