KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Primary Care Docs Hope Reform Will Address Shortages

Primary care shortages produce significant challenges for the health care system and many family doctors hope reform will include tools to help with shortage. Also in primary care news, "traditional" concepts of masculinity may be a barrier to seeking primary care, and a doctor was fired for slandering junk food.

The Seattle Times reports: "with the potential of a health-care overhaul to swell the ranks of new patients, patient loads could become far higher still - even as the nation's health-care system already struggles under a dire shortage of primary-care physicians. Many going into primary care support efforts to make health care accessible to people who now lack insurance. But they are hoping that any change to the nation's health-care system will help not just patients, but also primary-care doctors, who are on the front lines of providing care but typically earn far less than other doctors. Experts say that in a well-functioning health-care system, about half of all doctors would be internists, family doctors or pediatricians, who together would comprise the category of primary-care physicians. But in the United States, only about 30 percent fall into that category (about 35 percent in Washington), and the rate of medical students going into it is far lower still - less than 10 percent nationwide."

"Many in or considering primary care are hoping health reform will address their concerns. One proposal being discussed in the House measure would authorize grants to community health centers to set up training programs for primary-care residents. Typically, those grants now go to hospitals. Another provision would provide training grants for primary-care residents" (Federis, 8/14).

Meanwhile, HealthDay/USA Today reports, new research on "macho men" has found "[m]iddle-aged men who are most devoted to traditional beliefs about masculinity are half as likely as other men to get routine medical care, researchers report" (Dotinga, 8/13).

In a separate article, Associated Press/USA Today reports on the firing of a Florida doctor after he railed against junk food and created a sign that read "America Dies on Dunkin": "A county commissioner who owns a doughnut shop and two lawyers who own a new Dunkin' Donuts on Panama City Beach turned against him, along with some of his own employees" (8/13).

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