Expanding supply of providers
by jerry on February 26, 2023
The US is experiencing a shortage of primary care providers, and that shortage is expected to become more acute as a higher percentage of its population ages into retirement. That trend is likely a result of specialists being better compensated than primary care providers, and might have been accelerated during the pandemic (given the number of providers who left the profession). In a marketplace dynamic, when meeting demand is too expensive and that demand cannot be curbed, then it is logical to think about increasing supply, which Kaiser Health News reports the state of Montana doing. Specifically, the state is considering whether to allow physician assistants to practice more independently.
Not surprisingly, the CEO of Montana Medical Association opposes the move. It is unclear what medical associations propose to solve the shortage. Presumably, physicians would welcome higher reimbursements, but if the number of doctors who can be trained each year is limited, paying more does not seem like an effective strategy. Given the long-term trends, it seems likely that more and more states will expand the autonomy of mid-level practitioners to cover the primary care shortage.