Obama budget calls for $5 billion to fight physician shortage

President Barack Obama will ask Congress to commit more than $5 billion to new training programs to combat the physician shortage, the New York Daily News reports.

Obama's budget proposal calls for the increased funding to train 13,000 primary care residents over the next 10 years, as well as increase the National Health Service Corps from 8,900 primary care providers a year to 15,000 a year.

If approved, it will be the first time the government uses Medicare funds to boost the number of medical residents, according to USA Today. The new funding will train doctors to practice in underserved and rural areas, the Daily News reports.

In addition to the $5 billion, the budget proposal adds nearly $4 billion to the National Health Service Corps over the next six years and extends larger payments to Medicaid providers, such as physician assistants and nurse practitioners, by one year, according to USA Today. Furthermore, it offers residencies for psychiatrists and other mental healthcare providers as part of the focus on team-based care.

"This is a booster shot unlike any other before now," Mary Wakefield, administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, told USA Today.

Because younger people have an interest in working with provider teams, White House officials told USA Today  it makes sense to recruit primary care practitioners for the residencies. Although medical students are often drawn to higher-paying fields to pay off student loans, the administration doesn't believe they will have trouble recruiting them.

Healthcare leaders have examined several potential solutions to the physician shortage. For example, many nurse practitioners (NPs) are providing patients with services they usually get from physicians, such as medication adherence assistance. And foreign-trained doctors, especially multilingual ones, can help offset the shortage by training as NPs, especially since they are more likely to care for medically underserved populations and Medicaid patients, FierceHealthcare previously reported.  

To learn more:
- read the Daily News article
- here's the USA Today article

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