DMI Blog

Ronda Kotelchuck

“Doctors Across New York” — a Solid Blueprint for Plugging the Gaps in our Healthcare System

Governor Spitzer's proposal to create a kind of "peace corps" for doctors is just one of the sensible and creative solutions that our rural and urban communities desperately need for a looming healthcare crisis.

For some time, both rural and urban communities alike have been feeling the strain on the primary care system. With private and public insurance reimbursement rates in the basement, new medical school graduates have been seeking careers elsewhere and in other fields, such as specialty care.

The result has been a dramatic shortage of primary care physicians leading to a growing crisis of access. Spitzer's proposal, called "Doctors Across New York," would provide grants for grads to pay off medical school student loans.

Along with several other incentives, the goal would be to encourage new medical school grads to enter the primary care field in rural and urban communities all across New York and eventually reach a goal of providing a family doctor for every New York household.

The dramatic importance of the growing doctor shortage cannot be overlooked. Take the Adirondacks as an example of the need for this kind of program. The region has only 184 physicians per 100,000 persons, compared to 321 in the rest of the state, and they are leaving at an alarming rate. The six-million-acre region that covers most of New York's North Country, lost nine percent of its primary care physicians between 2001 and 2005.

A survey by the Healthcare Association of New York State found that just hospitals outside of New York City were short around 800 physicians, surgeons and specialists. The need is dire.

There will not be a solution to the primary care crisis until primary care physicians are paid at a rate commensurate with their value. In the meantime, "Doctors Across New York" is an important interim step.

Ronda Kotelchuck: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 22, 2008 in Health Care
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