In December, the National Institute for Health Care Reform published a policy analysis detailing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In the report, “Matching Supply to Demand: Addressing the U.S. Primary Care Workforce Shortage,” contributing authors Emily R. Carrier, Tracy Yee and Lucy Stark review the PPACA in relation to the current U.S. primary care workforce shortage. The analysis breaks down the act’s beneficial aspects, as well as its potential shortcomings, and offers several theoretical approaches to these issues.
The review outlines the major PPACA provisions for mitigating the primary care workforce shortage as “increasing the number of trainees who are likely to pursue careers in primary care; encouraging graduates to practice primary care; and adding to the skill set of currently practicing primary care physicians.” The authors argue that none of these provide any answers to the physician shortage problem in the immediate future. While acknowledging the benefit these plans may eventually engender, Yee, Stark and Carrier further reason that these PPACA strategies may not make as large of an impact as is necessary when they eventually do come to fruition. In order to bolster primary care workforce support in the short term while supplementing the long-term provisions presently in place with the health reform law, the authors highlight two alternative policy options: Expanding the scope of practice for non-physicians such as advanced practice nurses (APNs) and enacting new payment policies for team-based care.
For more on this review, see the full National Institute for Health Care Reform report.