Saturday, July 10, 2010

Coming Shortage of Physicians

If there is a shortage of something, shouldn't its price go up? The earnings of New Jersey physicians are in free fall. And HMO's carry legal immunity and appear to be above the law.

It is usually argued that tort liability is a substitute for violent revenge. If that is true, then the obverse is true. Immunity fully justifies violence.

Addressing the Anticipated New Jersey Physician Shortage
7 July 2010
By Patricia A. Costante

In recent months, there have been several reports published that have forecasted dramatic physician shortages in New Jersey. The New Jersey Physician Workforce Task Force Report published by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals projects a shortfall of more than 2,800 physicians by the year 2020. Even more alarming is the fact that the 2009 report of the Resident Exit Survey (an annual report prepared by New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospitals) shows a precipitous decline in the number of graduating medical residents who are choosing to practice in New Jersey. In 2009, only 32% of graduating residents stated that they intended to establish a practice in New Jersey, which represents a 15 percent decline in just one year. This report indicates that the anticipated 2,800 physician shortage may be closer to 3,250.

While the recent reports from the New Jersey Council on Teaching Hospitals have brought renewed attention to the issue, the impending physician shortage is not a new concept. Since 2005, a number of reports and studies have been published by at least 29 states and the Association of American Medical Colleges that have stated that the United States will be facing a shortage of 150,000 doctors by 2025.

The anticipated physician shortage in New Jersey will likely be felt at perhaps the worst possible time, as we all start to experience the impact of President Obama’s healthcare reform. Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, primary care physicians, identified as general practitioners, internists, family physicians and pediatricians, will play a significant role in coordinating the care of each of their patients, especially those with multiple chronic conditions. The New Jersey Physician Workforce Task Force has concluded that there is already a current shortage within primary care specialties. As New Jersey’s insured population gets set to expand by nearly 1.3 million patients, the supply of primary care physicians will clearly be insufficient to respond to the growing need. There are also many specialties that are predicted to have shortages, particularly neurosurgery and pediatric subspecialties.

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