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Radical Changes in Primary Care Needed to Meet Coming Demand for Health Care
By Jim Arvantes
The AAFP identified specific steps the public and private sectors could take to increase the number of primary care physicians, and noted that the need to enact such policies is acute because the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will extend health care coverage to millions more individuals during the next few years.
- The AAFP is calling for the enactment of measures to sustain and strengthen the nation's primary care physician infrastructure as the health care reform law extends health care coverage to millions more people.
- In congressional testimony, the AAFP called for measures to create public and private payment systems that better recognize and reward the provision of primary care services.
- The AAFP also proposed measures that would produce more primary care physicians by reforming education for medical students.
To help boost interest in primary care, the average income of physicians actually practicing primary care must increase to at least 70 percent of the median income of all physicians, an increase of about 20 percent, said the AAFP. "If primary care physicians are paid differently and better, in the context of the physician-led, patient-centered medical home (PCMH), costs should decline."
- increasing and sustaining the involvement of primary care physicians through all levels of medical training;
- supporting primary care student interest groups;
- recruiting, developing and supporting community physician faculty members; and
- reforming admission procedures to increase the number of students likely to go into primary care.
Federal and state governments can support an expansion in primary care by providing increased incentives for physicians who practice primary care or other critical specialties in designated health workforce shortage areas and by increasing funding for scholarship, loan, loan repayment and tuition waiver programs to lower financial obligations for students who plan and pursue careers in primary care, said the AAFP. Primary care physicians also should receive preferential increases in fee-for-service payments for primary care.
Nation Must Support Primary Care Infrastructure, Says AAFP