One of the Senate's health policy leaders is preparing legislation to address a primary-care physician shortage that could balloon next year as millions of uninsured Americans get coverage under the healthcare reform law.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters after a Tuesday hearing that he would soon introduce a bill and push for it to be enacted before the launch of the law's individual insurance mandate, Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges in 2014.
“There has been a crisis, but that crisis has been accentuated by the ACA and 30 million more people getting insurance, so we just got to make sure there is a place for them to go,” Sanders said.
Sanders said his legislation will fund “a significant expansion” of community health centers and the National Health Service Corps; require membership changes in the American Medical Association advisory panel on Medicare payment rates; and require teaching hospitals to focus on training more primary-care physicians.
Sanders' plans to fund further growth of community health centers followed the Obama administration's decision last year to slow down the distribution of $11 billion designated for them in the Affordable Care Act. The administration proposed holding back for future use $280 million of a $300 million boost those facilities were set to receive in 2012.