As the demand for health care services is set to expand under the federal Affordable Care Act, a new report suggests that Virginia is in short supply of those doctors needed to handle the influx of patients.
The need for primary care and family practice doctors will be especially great. The state's Joint Commission on Health Care is looking for solutions.
Virginia has more than 16-thousand practicing physicians —but 48-percent are primary care doctors. One problem is that primary care physicians make considerably less money than medical practitioners in specialty fields. In addition, economically distressed regions are having a tough time retaining primary care doctors and medical professionals of any type.
The physician to population ratio is especially low in the Southside, Southwest, and some urban areas. And nearly 20 percent of doctors expect to retire in the next five years. Commission member and Senator George Barker says the state must now decide how to attract and retain more physicians. He says lawmakers will submit several proposals in the upcoming and later legislative sessions, but any solutions will take time to implement and be effective.