Primary Care Access Meeting Demands, for Now, in Pennsylvania

According to a recent study by the University of Pennsylvania, predictions of a primary care shortage in the state due to increased demand from more newly insured patients following launch of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have not proven true.

The study suggests that very few patients experienced lack of primary care access and that there are enough primary care providers to meet the state’s needs. However, Medicaid patients reported less ease of access than patients with private insurance.

Examining access to primary care for nonelderly adults seeking primary care as new patients, researchers found that physician offices provided an appointment for 85 percent of the callers posing as patients with private insurance and 58 percent of the time for those claiming to have Medicaid.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) suggested in a public statement that the results are to be expected because many providers opt not to participate in Medicaid due to its low reimbursement rates. PAMED President Bruce MacLeod, MD, suggested that increasing residency slots in underserved areas and increasing medical student loan forgiveness will help the state continue to meet demand as the physician workforce ages.