Congress may turn to retired physicians to ease looming shortage

Bill would establish retraining, recertification program

Topics: Primary Care, Physician Issues

June 5, 2012

Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) last week introduced a bill that would establish a program to retrain and recertify inactive or retiring physicians in a broader effort to address the looming primary care physician (PCP) shortage.

According to HHS, the U.S. health workforce will need an additional 16,000 PCPs to meet national health care needs.

Sarbanes' bill—the Physician Reentry Demonstration Program Act—would help cover the costs of creating or expanding physician re-entry programs at medical schools. Physicians in those programs would be eligible for loan repayments, coverage of their credentialing fees, and the federal malpractice coverage program.

In return, physicians would be required to practice at a Veterans Affairs or community- or school-based health facility for at least two years.

According to Modern Healthcare, the program is expected to attract mid-career physicians who have temporarily stopped practicing to have children and retiring physicians who have relocated to a new state and need re-credentialing (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 6/3 [subscription required]).

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