KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Primary Care Shortages Affect Even Doctor-Heavy Massachusetts

The Boston Globe: Despite being home to the largest number of doctors per person, finding a primary care physician has been getting more difficult for Massachusetts residents since 2006, according a report released by the state. "Last year 60 percent of family-medicine doctors' offices were accepting new patients, down from 70 percent in 2007, the first full year after the state mandated near-universal health insurance coverage. Last year only 44 percent of internal medicine practices were accepting new patients, down from 66 percent in 2005. The figures come from data analyzed by the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy" (Cooney, 7/26).

Massachusetts isn't alone. Bennington Banner:  In Vermont, "Dr. G. Richard Dundas, founder and medical director of the Bennington Free Clinic, said the clinic consisted of one exam room and one doctor seeing patients when it opened at the start of 2009." It immediately filled up, and expanded its service. "Clinic General Manager Sue Andrews said a major reason for the enduring need for the Bennington Free Clinic is that 'there are very few offices that are open to new patients, even if you presented gold bullion. You can have the best insurance in the world, but they're closed'" (Rondeau, 7/25).

The Chico (Calif.) Enterprise-Record: "Enloe Medical Center is exploring offering them scholarships in exchange for promises they would work at Enloe, [one clinic executive said of shortages there]." Recruiting doctors will become increasingly important in Chico and most everywhere because a severe shortage of physicians looms, he said. In fact, Enloe has hired a full-time recruiter who does nothing other than try to persuade physicians to move to Chico and practice at the local hospital" (Mitchell, 7/26).

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