Report: Florida has worst physician shortage

Despite recent suggestions that concerns about the primary care physician (PCP) shortage may be overblown, the problem is especially pronounced at the state level, with Florida coming up shortest, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Areas and population groups with a population-to-provider ratio of at least 3,500-to-one (or 3,000-to-one in areas with particularly high need) are designed health professional shortage areas (HPSAs). The report found nearly 6,100 HPSAs nationwide. The following states lead in the amount of new practitioners they would need to shed the HPSA designation:

  1. Florida, with 916 

  2. California, with 652

  3. New York, with 612

  4. Texas, with 514

  5. Illinois, with 442

  6. Arizona, with 415

  7. Missouri, with 363

  8. Georgia, with 277

  9. Mississippi, with 230

  10. Washington, with 228

Florida has a total of more than 252 primary care HPSA designations, according to the report, meeting less than 45 percent of the state's overall need. California has 540 designations but a greater percentage of its overall need met, at 68.55 percent.

Despite the worrisome numbers, the report notes that the data do not account for additional primary care that physician assistants (PAs) or nurse practitioners (NPs) could provide, two groups often suggested as a means to offset the shortage. Research has shown easing state guidelines for NPs can ameliorate the impact of the PCP shortage, FierceHealthcare previously reported. This year, New York became the 18th state to expand NPs' authority to practice independently, despite vocal opposition from state physician groups arguing the move would be a detriment to patient safety.

To learn more:
- read the report