The Morning Report provides a quick look at today’s medical news, research and features.
|Experts Dispute Talk of Looming Doc Shortage|
|You hear it so often it’s almost a cliché: The nation is facing a serious shortage of doctors, particularly doctors who practice primary care, in the coming years. But is that really the case? Many medical groups say there’s little doubt. But others, particularly health care economists, are less convinced.
Gail Wilensky, a health economist and co-chair of the IOM panel, says previous predictions of impending shortages “haven’t even been directionally correct sometimes. Which is we thought we were going into a surplus and we ended up in a shortage, or vice versa.”
Those warning of a shortage have a strong case. Not only are millions of Americans gaining coverage through the Affordable Care Act, but 10,000 baby boomers are becoming eligible for Medicare every day. And older people tend to have more medical needs.
In addition to a numerical shortage, there’s also a mismatch between what kind of doctors the nation is producing and the kind of doctors it needs, says Andrew Bazemore, a family physician with the Robert Graham Center. ”We do a lot of our training in the northeastern part of our country, and it’s not surprising that the largest ratio of physicians and other providers, in general, also appear in those areas,” says Bazemore. That ends up resulting in an oversupply in urban centers in the Northeast and an undersupply elsewhere. Full article at Physicians News.
|Jogging May Help Seniors Walk Better|
|Jogging helps seniors maintain their ability to walk, a new study finds. The researchers looked at people older than 65 who either ran or walked for exercise. Those who ran at least 30 minutes three times a week were less likely to have age-related physical decline in walking than walkers.
In fact, joggers were 7 percent to 10 percent more efficient at walking than those who didn’t jog, according to the study published online Nov. 20 in the journal PLoS One. ”What we found is that older adults who regularly participate in high-aerobic activities – running in particular – have what we call a lower metabolic cost of walking than older, sedentary adults. In fact, their metabolic cost of walking is similar to young adults in their 20s,” said Justus Ortega, associate professor and director of the Biomechanics Lab at Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif.
Metabolic cost – which refers to the amount of energy required to move – naturally increases with age. High metabolic cost makes walking more difficult and tiring. A decline in walking ability is a major predictor of health problems in older adults. More at Physicians News.
|Docs Have Some Problems With Obamacare Patients|
|In some markets, doctors are reluctant to take on patients who bought health insurance plans through the state and federal exchanges that were created by “Obamacare.”
“I think doctors have a couple of problems with the exchange policies,” said Dr. Austin King, an otolaryngologist and president of the Texas Medical Association. People often don’t understand their insurance coverage, so staff members have to educate them, “and that adds to the hassle of seeing these patients,” King said.
Another problem: Doctors are wary of the law’s provision giving people with subsidized coverage a 90-day grace period before their coverage is cancelled for failing to pay the premium. Doctors fear they could end up on the hook for care provided to people who lose their coverage, King explained.
Recent news reports also indicate that some doctors in states like New York and Florida are reluctant to accept Obamacare patients because reimbursement rates are well below those of traditional health insurance plans. More at Physicians News.