Minnesota Could See Doctor Shortage

Posted at: 03/28/2013 9:26 PM
Updated at: 03/28/2013 10:53 PM
By: Maarja Anderson

Thousand of Minnesotans will soon be getting their health care through the new online marketplace after the passage of the Minnesota Health Care Exchange last week. This added influx has many health organizations worrying about meeting the demand.

Under the exchange, 300,000 more Minnesotans will be covered by state insurance, which is because of a mandate under President Obama's federal heath care overhaul. It has many health care providers worried.

"In Minnesota, we are facing multiple hundreds of thousands of individuals who will now have access to health care, however, we are not making a comparable investment," said VP of Public Policy for Essentia Health, Michael Mahoney.

It's not just the strain of more people in the system, the health care workforce is also aging. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, one in three doctors will be retirement age within the decade.

"We are on the verge of having a lot of doctors retire and there's been a change in the health care system where we are using more Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners," said Rep. Tom Huntley (DFL) of Duluth.

Rep. Huntley is the chair of the Health and Human Services Committee in the House. He said in order to meet the new demand, more money needs to be invested into training primary physicians, specifically for rural areas.

"We really need to train more rural primary care doctors and those come out of UMD Medical School," said Rep. Huntley.

Governor Mark Dayton's first budget proposal increased the investment in medical education and lessened the blow of past cuts. But last week, state Health and Human Services Committees were asked to cut their budget by $150 million.

This week, House and Senate leaders are on Spring Break and are touring the state to talk about the budget.