Now that the AAFP thinks they helped us in fixing the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula, which really ends up handcuffing us to the government forever, they now are setting their sights on the primary care physician shortage. Hooray! Unfortunately, there is not one creative idea in the whole group. Instead, these are the same clueless leaders who keep saying the same thing. They just don’t get it. Here is a summary of their thoughts from the 2015 Family Medicine Congressional Conference (FMCC):
- Several speakers focused on the lack of support in graduate medical education (GME) institutions for training the primary care workforce. As long as teaching hospitals dominate medical residency education, they said, there will be a continuing shortage of primary care physicians entering the field.
- Overall, THCs (teaching health centers) are an important pipeline for training primary care residents. According to the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, in fact, more than 90 percent of residents who train in THCs enter primary care, compared to about 20 percent of all medical school graduates.
- Two legislative aides at FMCC discussed the political obstacles that make it difficult to introduce changes in GME funding. Teaching hospitals receive an aggregate $10 billion annually from CMS for residency training, said Rodney Whitlock, Ph.D., M.A., health adviser to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and some members of Congress believe the budget for GME should be cut. Whitlock said a better idea might be to identify ways to be more efficient with annual spending and allocate more for areas of need such as primary care.Training more primary care physicians is the first step to address many of the financial concerns about rising health costs.
- But Klink said medical school graduates who enter family medicine residencies notice that the clinical settings where they train are often underfunded compared with those for subspecialties that are highly valued by teaching hospitals.
Sound familiar? These people think that the answer to fixing the primary care shortage is to get more government money and make prettier training centers. No one mentions the fact that the job sucks. No one mentions the fact that unless you go out on your own and do DPC, you are a prisoner of your hospital employer, you are still getting the lowest pay for physicians, you are being replaced more and more by midlevels, and you are spending all your day doing unproven quality metrics. But of course, you don’t want to fix these issues. No, you want to talk about the government helping us more. How pitiful and embarrassing.