How some states are working to address a shortfall of primary care doctors:
A package of bills moving through the Legislature is aimed at addressing California’s medical provider gap. The legislation would allow nurse practitioners, optometrists and pharmacists to expand the types of services they can provide patients. The proposals face heavy opposition from doctors, who favor training and placing more primary care physicians in rural and other underserved communities. Opponents also worry such changes would create two classes of medical care — one for people who have access to doctors and another for people who don’t.
Among the steps Delaware officials have taken to address the primary care physician shortage is a loan repayment program for primary care providers who commit to work in underserved areas. The program, funded by the state and federal governments, provided more than $360,000 in loan repayments to seven primary care providers in fiscal 2013. Officials say they are looking at expanding it.