ACP predicts looming crisis in primary care

"Report on the State of the Nation's Health Care" explains need for reform of the payment system

WHO: C. Anderson Hedberg, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians (ACP)
Vineet Arora, MD, MA, chair of the Council of Associates, ACP
Robert Doherty, senior vice president for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, ACP

WHAT: ACP's "2006 Report on the State of the Nation's Health Care"

WHEN: January 30, 2006, 9 a.m. 11 a.m.

WHERE: National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20045

WHY:In its annual "Report on the State of the Nation's Health Care," ACP focuses on the looming crisis in primary care and why reform of the payment system is essential to prevent this crisis.

There is growing evidence that shortages are developing for U.S. physicians, particularly in general internal medicine and family practice. Previous expectations of an excess supply of physicians have not materialized. Current 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.

This decline is the result of the current dysfunctional payment system for physicians' services. Primary care is under-reimbursed compared to other specialties, and many primary care physicians are struggling to keep their practices open at a time of escalating practice costs and excessive paperwork requirements that take time away from patients. The 4.4 percent cut in Medicare physician fee schedule payments that went into effect on Jan. 1 will only serve to exacerbate this problem.

Primary care is the backbone of the health care system, and if primary care is allowed to collapse, the whole system will collapse, resulting in lower quality, higher costs, and greater patient dissatisfaction.

As part of their report ACP will be releasing sweeping recommendations for reforming the way that primary care is financed, delivered and reimbursed. ACP's reforms recognize the value of care managed by a patient's personal physician, especially in practices that use health information technology and other innovations that center on each patient's needs. These reforms will result in higher quality, more efficient, and more accessible care.


The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 119,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection and treatment of illness in adults. For more information on ACP policies, visit

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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