ACP, the nation's largest medical specialty society, will release extensive recommendations for reforming the way that primary care physicians are compensated, educated, and trained, in an effort to address issues that are negatively impacting the stability of the internal medicine workforce. ACP's reforms are designed to recognize the value of primary care physicians, and general internists in particular, who are a key component of managing chronic diseases, providing comprehensive and coordinated long-term care. ACP's reforms, if implemented, will help strengthen the importance of primary care in the health care system, by acknowledging and supporting the value and role of primary care physicians in delivering better quality care at lower cost.
There is growing evidence that physician shortages are developing in the United States, particularly in general internal medicine and family practice. Projections indicate that the future supply of primary care physicians will be inadequate to meet the health care needs of the aging U.S. population. Primary care is under-reimbursed compared to other specialties, and many primary care physicians are struggling to keep their practices open at a time when practice costs are escalating and excessive paperwork requirements take time away from patients. This decline is the result of the current dysfunctional payment system for physicians' services.
According to the ACP, primary care medicine is the backbone of the health care system, and if it is allowed to collapse, it will take the whole system with it, resulting in lower quality, higher costs, and greater patient dissatisfaction.