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    Posted January 28, 2014 by
    South River, New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Obamacare: Your story

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    Will the ACA Act Worsen the Primary Care Doctor Shortage?

    By: Linda Girgis, MD, FAAFP
    Last year, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) declared a few areas primary care shortage crisis areas. I practice in NJ which happens to be one of the states so declared. Because of the increasing administrative burdens, rising overhead costs, and stagnant or even decreasing rates of reimbursements, many doctors are looking to retire earlier or to change to other careers that do not involve direct patient care. Several doctors in nearby areas have retired or left practice. It is hard to get new patients into the schedule. My office, which consists of two physicians (my husband and myself) is open 14 hours a day and Saturday mornings. We do not have any more hours to give. Our practice has over 5000 active patients which is a full patient panel by almost anyone’s standards. New patients call every day because they cannot find a primary care doctor. There are simply not enough of us. We try to see as many as we can but without turning our practice into an assembly line of patient care. We need to put the patient first and quality medical care always comes first. We can’t do that by squeezing in every single patient who wants to come in for a visit. We have to set limits or the quality of care will suffer and this is completely unacceptable.
    The ACA act is pushing millions of previously uninsured patients to sign up for medical insurance or face tax penalties. The insurance companies have expanded services to be able to accommodate these additional enrollees. And we are all aware of the additional funding the government poured into getting the ACA act into action. However, nothing was done to increase the number of physicians in this country. There was no money spent in training additional qualified medical personnel.
    We already have a primary care doctor shortage in several areas in the USA. Where are these extra patients going to go for treatment? Doctors are already too taxed to accept this sheer volume of new patients. My prediction is that the implementation of the ACA act is going to precipitate the impending physician shortages that have been forecasted for years. Time will tell.

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