Advocacy / Politics

Addressing Primary Care Access and Workforce Challenges

by Desmond Fambrini

On Wednesday, April 9th, the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging held a hearing entitled, “Addressing Primary Care Access and Workforce Challenges: Voices from the Field.” Health care continues to demand significant attention on Capitol Hill as lawmakers attempt to deal with major changes to the system as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known more commonly as “ObamaCare.” In some specific areas, the health care issues at hand are attracting bipartisan criticism and are resulting in a consensus for reform.

The deficit of primary care physicians in America became the central focus of the Subcommittee’s recent hearing. Subcommittee Chairman Bernard Sanders (I-VT) opened with a direct statement criticizing the current health care system, juxtaposing U.S. health costs and outcomes with those of other first-world countries. “We are much weaker in terms of primary healthcare,” Chairman Sanders stated, pointing to data that suggests the U.S. spends more money on health care than other European countries, but experiences less successful results as it relates to life expectancy.

Ranking Member of the Subcommittee Richard Burr (R-NC) also weighed in on the health care crisis in America, blatantly indicating his pessimism toward the government-first direction the U.S. health care system is headed. Still, Sen. Burr emphasized that the evident lack of primary health care physicians is contributing to the U.S. health care crisis. For example, nearly one in five Americans resides in areas where there is a shortage of primary care providers. In rural areas, this is a particularly pressing issue because access to nearby hospitals and doctors is limited.

Though Republicans and Democrats strongly disagreed on how the U.S. health care system should be structured and the degree to which the government should play a role in it thereafter, members of the Subcommittee agreed that increasing the number of primary care physicians in the country would improve the current system. By increasing the number of physicians in the medical field, the Senators are hopeful that there will be an increase in the life spans of the general population and that health care costs will be driven down.

As with any discussion on health care, the Subcommittee also examined these concerns in the context of ObamaCare. Chairman Sanders – along with a number of witnesses called to testify by the Democratic Majority – expressed support for the president’s health care law. “In recent years we have made significant progress in increasing funding in a variety of ways to those entities who are doing a really really good job… I am very proud in the Affordable Care Act and in the stimulus package… we have doubled funding for federally qualified community health centers,” said Sanders.

On the other hand, conservative Senators and witnesses expressed a very different view of the health care system – which continues to undergo major structural overhauls as a result of ObamaCare. “With tens of millions of people becoming eligible for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, a perfect storm is brewing,” remarked witness Deborah Edberg, M.D., a family physician and program director for the Erie Family Health Center. Dr. Edberg went on to say that “Without enough providers, many of these newly insured individuals may remain without care or continue to be relegated to emergency rooms.” In many ways, ObamaCare has exacerbated existing problems plaguing the health care industry by creating an influx of new patients to the system without addressing issues like the primary care doctor deficit. Additionally, ObamaCare has already cancelled millions of health plans – forcing individuals to select new insurance or change doctors.

Despite the difference in views over ObamaCare, a bipartisan consensus did emerge. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) encapsulated this consensus when she said, “Access to primary care is essential to keeping people healthy.” AMAC fully supports this statement and understands the vital need to increase the number of primary care physicians in the medical field – especially as the number of newly insured individuals rises over time. Still, AMAC believes that a full repeal of ObamaCare is necessary to remedy the multifaceted flaws encompassed in the current system and to create a more successful, sustainable health care system in the long run.

AMAC will continue to maintain a constant presence on the Hill as Congress continues to work to strengthen the health care system.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
9 years ago

Both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are advocates of single-payer and avowed Socialists. Neither should be taken seriously when it comes to discussions related to health care reform. They are two of the biggest proponents of rationed care and turning the medical profession into a government run utility. Hardly what I would consider a path to improving the overall quality of care to patients. Any hearings that these two call are nothing more than PR stunts to “talk-up” how wonderful Obamacare is and how even better single-payer would be.

9 years ago

I believe Republican legislators in both houses of Congress should tell the Progressively Socialist Democrats that “we’d be willing to compromise with working on healthcare solutions, as long as, you Socialists would be willing to compromise with Conservatives in reforming our legal system” … You know, like capping how much attorneys can charge for their services. Such as: no more than $40.00 per hour charged when billing a client, and a percentage of no more than 15% of any settlements! How about if one party going to court cannot afford an attorney than both sides should not be represented by attorneys. It’s time rich people should not have an advantage by hiring “specialists” or a “team” while poor people are assigned ” rookies” learning by “on the job training” … duh, guess who wins?

If Obamacare can tell doctors how much they can charge, or even what they will be paid for, isn’t it time attorneys played by similar rules?

So we have the (ACA) Affordable Care Act, we can call it (FAGGAT) Fair Attorney Guidelines Gouging American Taxpayers … sounds good to me! … I’ll vote for it!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x