News: 56 million Americans have no access to primary care docs

September 19, 2008

A new report from the National Association of Community Health Centers cites a severe shortage of primary care physicians as the nation's biggest barrier to universal health care.

Just because the United States may one day have national health care doesn't mean everyone will have access to it. That's one of the conclusions from a new report released by the National Association of Community Health Centers, which cites a severe shortage of primary care physicians as the biggest barrier to universal health care. The NACHC estimates that 56 million Americans currently lack adequate access to primary care services, because the current primary care workforce is poorly distributed, causing shortages in many areas of the country. Community health centers, which treat low-income and impoverished patients, will need as many as 19,500 more primary care physicians by 2015 to meet the expected demand for their services, according to the NACHC. To help fill the gap, the organization is calling for greater funding of federal and state programs designed to encourage students to choose primary care.