Study Reveals Importance of Quest to Keep and Find Doctors

By Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

A report published recently indicates that the growth in demand for physicians will outpace the growth in supply. “New York Physician Supply and Demand Through 2030” published by the New York Center for Health Workforce Studies forecasts a gap of between 2,500 and 17,000 physicians by 2030. Experts estimate the gap will widen if New York-trained physicians leave the state at a higher rate in upcoming years.

The study found:

· In rural counties, 58% of the physicians are over age 50.

· Twenty-two counties experienced a decline in physicians per capita between 2003 and 2007.

· The number of general surgeons declined by 6% statewide and declined in 21 counties across the state.

· The number of obstetrician-gynecologists and psychiatrists declined in 16 counties.

The report states, “The magnitude of the shortage will depend on several variables: the growth of non-physician clinicians, efforts to implement universal health care, the long-term health of the economy, and efforts to reform the health care system.” The good news is that our state has begun to act on preventing the gap from getting larger.

In 2008, Doctors Across New York was enacted. This state-funded initiative helps train and place physicians in underserved communities in a variety of settings and specialties. It provides up to $150,000 in loan repayment for qualified educational debt if the doctor agrees to serve for five years in an underserved area. Currently, doctors have been placed in Oswego and Onondaga counties through the program.

Doctors Across New York also provides up to $100,000 toward practices that provide medical services in an underserved area for more than two years. Lists of which hospitals or health facilities have taken advantage of the programs are available for the public to view at http://www.health.state.ny.us/funding/rfa/0810080949/awards.htm and http://www.health.state.ny.us/funding/rfa/0810080408/awards.htm. Groups like the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) are supporting the program by connecting physicians with available positions. The site lists the Doctors Across New York awards and indicates positions yet to be filled. HANYS is promoting this Web page to physicians who are seeking employment and to state professional societies.

We need to stop physicians from leaving the state and if state-funded programs do just that in conjunction with the help of physician-interest groups then we can continue to provide residents with access to specialists, obstetricians, surgeons, pediatricians and general practice physicians. We should also be looking at the root-cause of the decline of physicians and some of that has to do with the cost of medical liability insurance. Reforming laws, specifically instituting tort reform, pertaining to medical liability would also serve our state well.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.