When the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid eligibility in 2014 to include nonelderly adults with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty line, half of all states will "face substantial challenges" in patient access because of their weak primary-care infrastructures, according to a report by five George Washington University researchers published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
GWU researchers see major primary-care gap for states in 2014
Eight states—Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas—have such weak primary-care capacity, according to the report, that "demand for care by newly insured patients could outstrip the supply of primary-care providers" unless efforts are taken to bolster their numbers.
"These gaps could affect access to care not only for newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries but also for others who depend on a state's existing supply of clinicians," the report's authors concluded. "In the long run, expanded insurance coverage should support more primary-care practices in undersupplied areas and eventually help to level out disparities in primary-care capacity. But the insurance expansions do not begin until 2014, and it could take considerable time for capacity to balance out on its own."
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