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Study finds shortage of primary care physicians

3.1.16– Rachael Herndon, The Missouri Times

Avalere Health released a national study Tuesday analyzing a number of states facing a primary care physician shortage as well as the costs that consumers would face if the state enacted a new prescription requirement for existing over-the-counter (OTC) medicines containing pseudoephedrine (PSE).

In Missouri, the study found the state has 213 primary care physician shortage areas, with 25 percent of Missourians already living in an area without enough doctors. Additionally, the study found that placing a new prescription requirement for current OTC medicines containing PSE would create an additional 23,491 new doctor visits in the state of Missouri, creating an unnecessary additional workload burden on a physician community that is already facing a shortage, costing $400,000 in new Medicaid spending on unnecessary doctor visits and prescriptions, and resulting in $700,000 in lost sales tax revenue for Missouri in the first year alone.  

“This study further documents the hardship that unnecessary restrictions requiring a prescription for medicines containing pseudoephedrine place on Missourians, including my patients,” said Senator Dr. Bob Onder, R-O’Fallon. “Given the shortage of primary care physicians, prescription requirements would inconvenience allergy and cold sufferers – particularly those unable to see a doctor quickly to treat their symptoms. The added expense of an unnecessary doctor’s visit may even stop them from seeking treatment altogether. As a lawmaker and physician, I am committed to enacting policies that address the methamphetamine problem without restricting access to over-the-counter medicine families rely on.”
The study also found that 57 million Americans live in regions that lack adequate access to primary healthcare due to a shortage of physicians in their communities and that the U.S. health system will have a deficit of 52,000 doctors by 2025 despitenan increasing population in need of primary care.

Read more here.