Wait to see primary care MDs growing in MA

Here's a look at the future of the U.S. health system: In the state of Massachusetts, the wait to see primary care doctors has grown to as long as 100 days as the number of practices accepting new patients has fallen. Worse, as the state's health insurance mandate has encouraged more patients to seek care, the shortage is likely to keep getting worse, policymakers say.

Aware of the problem, the state's legislature has approved a sweeping set of financial incentives for young physicians, as well as other measures designed to attract primary care doctors into the state. This includes $1.5 million to help the University of Massachusetts Medical School expand its class size, as well as waive tuition and fees for students who agree to work in community health centers. It would also provide $500,000 to pay off debt for physicians who work in primary care in undeserved areas for at least two years.

However, the state's healthcare leaders say that even if they pass, such measures will take several years to have a significant impact on the supply of primary care physicians. In the meantime, the state is still struggling with trends that are fueling national primary care shortages, including a lack of new graduates in the field. According to a survey published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a mere 2 percent of students graduating from med school plan to practice primary care.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this piece from the Boston Globe

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