Cantwell Addresses Shortage of Primary Care to Reduce Health Care Costs and Improve Patient Care
Cantwell Works to Introduce Legislation to Increase Access to Care for Underserved Populations
SEATTLE , WA – As the Congressional debate about health care reform gains momentum, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) is working on two legislative initiatives to increase the number of practicing primary care doctors and remedy inefficient Medicare reimbursement rates. During a press conference held today at the University of Washington Medical Center, Cantwell addressed how providing efficient, prevention-oriented care throughout the country, and ensuring primary care doctors are fairly compensated under Medicare, can produce better health care outcomes for patients and reduce costs overall. The University of Washington School of Medicine has been ranked as the number one primary care medical school in the nation for 15 consecutive years by
“Many of the conversations our state and nation are having about health care reform focus on the uninsured, but when it comes to addressing the nation’s health care crisis and developing real solutions, the conversation can’t stop here,” said Cantwell. “In
According to a report issued by the
Cantwell plans to introduce two bills in coming weeks to address two of the fundamental problems that plague our nation’s health care system: a critical shortage of physicians and inefficient Medicare reimbursements that do not reward a coordinated approach of patients’ health care needs. The legislation aims to provide efficient, cost-effective, prevention-oriented care throughout the country, especially in underserved and rural communities.
Specifically, the Preserving Access to Primary Care Act would help provide efficient, prevention-oriented care throughout the country. It would also reward Medicare providers that offer well managed primary care and incentivize other providers to adopt better practices by:
- Establishing scholarships and loan forgiveness in exchange for primary care service commitments in critical shortage areas;
- Creating grants for medical school mentorship programs and primary care training in community health centers;
- Increasing Title VII and National Health Service Corps funding for primary care training;
- Removing caps on the number of residencies funded by the Medicare GME program with a preference for the new residencies given to primary care;
- Eliminating barriers to increased training in ambulatory care settings for primary care trainees; and,
- Enacting Medicare payment reforms to support the value of primary care in improving quality, coordinating care and reducing costs, and a transition to a new payment system based on the Patient Centered Medical Home.
The second bill, The Physician Workforce Enhancement Act, would improve access to health care by increasing the number of doctors trained in the specialties people need most, like family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and behavioral and mental health by:
- Creating an interest-free loan program for hospitals committed to starting new residency programs in one of these in-demand specialties; and
- Providing financial assistance to hospitals to create residency programs in underserved rural areas.
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