Mix of Medical Professionals Affects Access to Care
Many U.S. residents are unable to access "quality, affordable health care" because the communities in which they live lack the "proper mix" of care providers, a new HHS study says. The study, conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, examined workforce issues in California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Researchers examined how states structure and pay for health care, the impact of investing in primary care education and the need for high retention rates for providers trained in-state. The study recommends that state health policymakers "take a hard look at how they" pay for care providers' education, license and regulate providers and insurers, pay Medicaid providers and create programs to encourage providers to select certain specialties and practice locations. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "We need to do more to get enough doctors, nurses and other health care professionals into the underserved areas where they're needed most. This report offers data and analysis to guide states in how they can strengthen the care available in these areas through workforce development" (HRSA release, 9/19). For a free copy of the study, "The Health Care Workforce in Ten States: Education, Practice and Policy," call (888) ASK-HRSA or go online at http://www.hrsa.gov/.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.