Here’s the rub–even though we need primary care physicians more than ever, there is a shortage and not enough new doctors in the pipeline. KCPT special correspondent Sam Zeff reports that in Kansas, the impact of massive tax cuts on funding for higher education may make the problem even worse As Zeff’s report reveals, it is not all bad news. A recent study ranked the KU School of Medicine in Wichita sixth in the nation for producing primary care physicians. (Production support for this segment by Majestic Rhinos.)
As part of a joint reporting partnership, Aileen Leblanc at our sister station KMUW in Wichita has been taking a closer look:
By Aileen LeBlanc
An Unmeasured Program
Back in the ‘60s when Medicare and Medicaid were born, Congress was concerned that there needed to be a way to insure that there were enough outlets for the care of people covered by the new programs. Funding was designated for Graduate Medical Education. The money was given to teaching hospitals for the training of new doctors.
Some 13 billion tax dollars go into this program annually. But there never was a system to direct exactly how the dollars were used.
Andrew Bazemore, MD, director, Robert Graham Center, Washington , DC
“There was no effort to create metrics of what would be produced. And really the hospitals were left to determine where the residency positions would be directed and to decide, based on their own local needs, and locally typically being the hospital’s needs, where to position their resources.”
Things got out of balance. The large hospitals groom doctors for their high-tech expensive units, and the doctors saw the specialties and subspecialties as being a good way to go: more money, less work and a quicker way to pay off those nasty medical school debts.
But let’s back up and go to Kansas. Belleville, Kansas. Population: About 2,000.
Belleville is named for Arabelle Tutton, wife of A.B. Tutton founder of the town some 144 years ago. Belleville sits at the crossroads of America and brags the world’s fastest half mile dirt track for racing. The track’s operator, Mr. McChesney , is in the clinic today with a sore hand.