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Healthcare Roundup: MO’s Proposed Fix for Doctor Shortage, Healthcare Cost Watchdog in CA & More

March 18, 2022

MO Weighs Fix for Physician Shortage

A bill introduced this year in the Missouri House (HB 2296) would allow assistant physicians - medical school graduates who haven’t completed their residency - to become fully licensed as doctors after practicing for five years with a supervising physician, passing an examination, and meeting other training requirements.

The measure comes in the same state that proposed the nation’s first legislation providing for the licensure of assistant physicians. The aim of that bill was to address the state’s chronic shortage of primary care providers, due at least in part to the limited supply of residency programs available. Last year 9,155 applicants - about one in five - failed to get into a residency program.

Other states, including Arizona, Kansas, and Utah, have enacted similar assistant physician laws. And Virginia is also considering one.

But HB 2296 faces some significant headwinds. It’s sponsor, Rep. Tricia Derges (R), was indicted last year for allegedly prescribing drugs illegally and fraudulently obtaining COVID-19 relief funds, among other things, and has been kicked out of the GOP caucus.

Physician groups in the state that previously supported Derges’ idea now want to limit the number of years someone can practice as an assistant physician, as other states have done. Legislation to that effect has also been introduced in the Missouri Senate (SB 938).

The American Medical Association, meanwhile, supports federal legislation (SB 834) that would increase the number of residency positions in the nation by 14,000 by 2029. (KAISER HEALTH NEWS, STATE NET)

CA Gov Wants Healthcare Cost Watchdog

Part of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) $286.4 billion proposed budget would establish an Office of Health Care Affordability to make sure hospitals, doctors and insurance companies that operate in the state keep their costs down. Other states, including Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have similar offices, but none of them are as comprehensive as what Newsom is proposing. (ABC NEWS)

Staffing Shortages, Medical Workers’ Mental Health Biggest Threats to Patient Safety

Staffing shortages and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare workers’ mental health topped nonprofit patient safety organization ECRI’s annual list of patient concerns, released last week. ECRI researchers said staffing shortages are jeopardizing patient safety, causing delays and denial of care. (ECRI)

U.S. Primary Care Access Doesn’t Measure Up to Other Wealthy Nations

Access to primary care in the United States lags well behind 10 other high-income nations, according to a report released last week by the Commonwealth Fund. Among the report’s key findings was that American adults were the least likely to have a regular doctor or place of care. (FIERCE HEALTHCARE, COMMONWEALTH FUND)

Healthcare Groups Seek Extension of Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver

A coalition of healthcare organizations has sent a letter to congressional leaders seeking the extension of the Medicare waiver for Acute Hospital Care at Home (AHCAH), which is currently set to expire at the end of the public health emergency. The health systems, home health agencies and other providers said research shows that AHCAH programs “are at least as safe as facility-based inpatient care and result in improved clinical outcomes, higher rates of patient satisfaction, and reduced health care costs.” (MODERN HEALTHCARE, HEALTCHARE FINANCE, MOVING HEALTH HOME)

Companies to Begin Making Pfizer’s COVID-19 Pill

Thirty-five companies around the world will soon begin making generic versions of Pfizer’s COVID-19 antiviral pill, nirmatrelvir, or Paxlovoid. The U.N.-backed Medicines Patent Pool, which negotiated the deal, said it should help make the drug available to over half of the world’s population. (ABC NEWS)

-- Compiled by KOREY CLARK

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