Senate Health Subcommittee on Primary Health Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT), held a hearing Tuesday on what he called a “major crisis” in primary health care.The hearing examined the shortage of primary care physicians as 30 million new health patients will have access to care under the Affordable Care Act. Currently 70% of U.S. doctors are specialists with only 30% as primary care physicians.
A panel of primary care doctors testified on the problem and gave possible solutions. These included student loan debt forgiveness for primary care doctors, increasing the Medicare reimbursements, and changing the culture of medical schools to encourage students into primary health care.
Witnesses at the hearing included: Fitzhugh Mullan, professor of medicine and health policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine; Tess Stack Kuenning, executive director of the Bi-State Primary Care Association in Montpelier, Vt.; Toni Decklever, director of government affairs at the Wyoming Nurses Association in Cheyenne, Wyo.; Andrew Wilper, acting chief of medicine at the VA Medical Center in Boise, Idaho; Uwe Reinhardt, professor of political economy and professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.; and Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer at the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County in Chicago, Ill.