Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Paging Dr. Smith, You Are Needed In Year 2025

The Wall Street Journal lets us know once again there's going to be a shortage of doctors over the next 15 years unless we train more of them.  The Wingers are quick to blame health care reform, but as usual, the messy facts elude them.  Luckily, the WSJ does point out the salient information that this shortage was destined to happen thanks to Republicans a dozen years ago:

But medical colleges and hospitals warn that these efforts will hit a big bottleneck: There is a shortage of medical resident positions. The residency is the minimum three-year period when medical-school graduates train in hospitals and clinics.

There are about 110,000 resident positions in the U.S., according to the AAMC. Teaching hospitals rely heavily on Medicare funding to pay for these slots. In 1997, Congress imposed a cap on funding for medical residencies, which hospitals say has increasingly hurt their ability to expand the number of positions.

Medicare pays $9.1 billion a year to teaching hospitals, which goes toward resident salaries and direct teaching costs, as well as the higher operating costs associated with teaching hospitals, which tend to see the sickest and most costly patients.

Doctors' groups and medical schools had hoped that the new health-care law, passed in March, would increase the number of funded residency slots, but such a provision didn't make it into the final bill.

"It will probably take 10 years to even make a dent into the number of doctors that we need out there," said Atul Grover, the AAMC's chief advocacy officer.
In other words, we've had this shortage coming since the 105th Congress, one created thirteen years ago.  You know, one where the Republican Party was in charge of the House and Senate, that whole Trent Lott/Newt Gingrich thing going there.  Republicans kind of failed to restore medical residency funding too.

Sadly, that measure was cut out of the health care reform bill too.  So yes, given a chance to correct the Republican party's mistake, the Dems blew that one.  But the source of the shortage belongs to the boys with the power of the purse in 1997, and that was the Republican party, who decided a little off the top from Medicare then would be fine for America later.


In Ur Blog Eatin Waffles (Accept no fail imitations) said...

Cause Medicare/aid is profitable right?

Maybe they can pull the money from Social Security...

royalblue_tom said...

Come on then Waffles, tell us why the private insurance industry hasn't stepped in. Surely the market will sort out this problem, right?

Oh, I forgot. There's no money in it for the private firms, and actual planning on the government's part to ensure enough doctors is socialism. Silly me.

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