The nations supply of primary-care physicians grew between 1995 and 2005 and primary-care residents increased during an 11-year stretch that ended in 2006, the Government Accountability Office reported at a Senate committee hearing on the industrys workforce. Foreign medical and osteopathic graduates accounted for the 6% growth in primary-care medical residents between 1995 and 2006, according to the GAO.
The number of U.S. medical school graduates entering primary care dropped during the same period. Testifying before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Bruce Steinwald, GAO healthcare director, cited projections from a federal workforce agency and the American Academy of Family Physicians that show an expected shortage of primary-care doctors in 12 years.
Nurse-practitioner primary-care graduates increased 157% between 1994 and 2005, the GAO reported. Comparable figures for physician assistants were not available, the GAO said.
Senators and witnesses sharply criticized President Bushs budget proposal to eliminate $194 million in health profession education and training funds, which would wipe out more than a dozen programs known as Title VII. Funding for Title VIIwhich includes training grants; faculty and student loans, scholarships and loan forgiveness; and workforce analysis projectsincreased 5% in 2008 after experiencing a 51% cut in 2006. -- by Melanie Evans
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