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The continuing pressure on the primary care system will be significant if so-called RomneyCare in Massachusetts is a harbinger for national healthcare reform, as some critics have claimed. Read on to see how primary care physicians there have coped.
If so-called RomneyCare in Massachusetts is a harbinger for national healthcare reform, as some critics have claimed, then the continuing pressure on the primary care system will be significant.
A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) found that more than half of primary care practices in the Commonwealth are closed to new patients. In addition, wait times to get appointments with both primary care doctors and specialists are increasing, and fewer practices are participating in key government healthcare programs, according to the survey, which is part of the MMS’s annual Physician Workforce Study.
In terms of primary care, the survey, based on 838 telephone interviews, found that 51% of internists and 53% of family physicians are not accepting new patients, similar to last year’s figures. According to MMS officials, those figures illustrate a continuing and serious shortage of primary caregivers. Other findings:
How have primary care practices in Massachusetts dealt with that state’s healthcare reform efforts? A substantial number of Massachusetts’ primary care doctors have responded to the healthcare reform efforts by opting out of at least some of the programs, according to the survey:
“Massachusetts has made great strides in securing insurance coverage for its citizens, but insurance coverage doesn’t equal access to care. We still have much work to do to reduce wait times and widen access,” Alice Coombs, MD, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society, said in a statement.