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State mandates and aging physicians cause "crisis" in Massachusetts

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Physician practices in Massachusetts are deteriorating, due in part to state-mandated health coverage and an aging physician population, according to a recent report.

Physician practices in Massachusetts are deteriorating, due in part to state-mandated health coverage and an aging physician population, according to a recent report from the state's medical association.

The Massachusetts Medical Society's "Physician Practice Environment Index" is a compilation of nine factors that depict the practice climate in the state, including aging workforce, median income, liability cost, and the cost of maintaining a practice. In April, the society reported the 2008 index declined 1.5 percent-the 15th drop in 17 years.

"Massachusetts continues to present a contradiction in healthcare," says Bruce Auerbach, MD, an emergency physician and president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. "While we're seen as a model of healthcare reform, those at the center of our system-our physicians-continue to operate in a weak environment, year after year. This directly affects patient care."

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