IOM: Higher payments won't solve provider shortage

Paying physicians and providers higher rates will not attract them to underserved areas of the country, reported Kaiser Health News.

The Institute of Medicine made the recommendation on Tuesday after studying regional healthcare disparities across the country.

"[G]eographic adjustment of Medicare payment is not an appropriate approach for addressing problems in the supply and distribution of the healthcare workforce. The geographic variations in the distribution of physicians, nurses, and physician assistants and local shortages that create access problems for beneficiaries should be addressed through other means," the IOM report states.

The suggestions could significantly impact critical access hospitals, which often struggle with both attracting physicians and paying them for their services. Currently, the Medicare program is providing bonus payments to providers in some underserved regions of the country until 2015. And critical access hospitals are focusing on improving the patient experience to avoid value-based payment cuts from Medicare, according to Business 2 Community.

As an alternative, the IOM pushed for other recommendations, such as the wider deployment of telemedicine and a greater use of nurse practitioners, encouraged by changes in the scope of practice laws at the state level, according to KHN.

To learn more:
- read the KHN article
- check out the IOM report
- read the Business 2 Community article