The number of primary care physicians in the nation is continuing to decrease, an issue that federally qualified health centers have typically faced, but has now become a greater burden. According to a report by The Association of American Medical Colleges, the shortage of primary care physicians is estimated to fall between 14,900 and 35,600 physicians by 2025. Federally qualified health centers have a limited supply of primary care doctors and other clinical staff. There are currently 10,000 primary care physicians at community health centers, and it is estimated that these centers will need at least 15,000 primary care providers over the next decade.
There are several factors that have been contributing to the steady decrease of the number of primary care physicians in the United States. One of the factors is the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in allowing millions to have access to routine healthcare. Also, the steady population growth as well as the increased elderly population attribute to the need for more primary care physicians. About one-third of the current physician workforce will retire over the next decade, affecting the shortage of primary care physicians.
Using ACA funding, the Obama Administration has added 900 health centers in the last five years, increasing the need for primary care physicians. Although the need for staffing more primary care physicians has increased, physicians are selecting to practice a specialty rather than primary care, as the reimbursement rates for specialty services are higher.
Read the original article from Modern Healthcare here.