August 1, 2022 | Updates

ICYMI: Public Option Could Exacerbate Health Care Workforce Shortages, Threatening Access to Care 

WASHINGTON – A report released last week by experts at FTI Consulting found that a national public option would “exacerbate the country’s widespread health care workforce shortages, contradicting policymakers’ goals to expand access to care.” 

Specifically, the report found:  

  • A national public option could reduce the health care workforce by over 4,000 physicians
  • A national public option could elevate the physician shortage to 78,701 providers and contributing to a projected shortage of nearly 33,000 primary care providers (PCP) by 2050
  • Under a public option, the specialist workforce may shrink by nearly 3,400 physicians by 2050 resulting in a total shortage of 46,304 specialists
  • By 2050, under a public option, registered nurse (RN) graduations may fall by two percent, or 88,000 registered nurse graduations.  
  • A public option could exacerbate rural workforce shortages, amplifying disparities, and low reimbursements could also cut into the margins rural hospitals depend on to pay health care workers. 

This new report adds to the growing consensus that a public option will negatively impact the health care workforce, straining resources used to attract and retain staff, and threaten access to care for patients.  

  • “The public option would adopt the payment formulas used by Medicare and Medicaid. Given the financial strain already facing these programs, Medicare and Medicaid reimburse healthcare providers at low rates… One in five rural hospitals were already in financial distress prior to COVID-19. Providers like these would struggle to cover losses of accepting public option patients if reimbursed at low rates.” (Real Clear Health, 07/28/21
  • Pew Charitable Trusts’ Michael Ollove reported that many medical providers doubt the viability of state public option plans already in place. Additionally, providers “warn that public options, predicated on lower payments to hospitals and doctors, could ultimately limit health care access.” (Pew Charitable Trusts, 7/22/21

Polling shows that voters prefer building on America’s current health care system rather than creating new, government-controlled health insurance systems. The latest edition of Voter Vitals, a national health care tracking poll conducted by Locust Street Group, showed support for government-controlled proposals remains limited, with only 49 percent of Americans supporting a public option.  

Building on and improving what’s working in health care continues to be the most effective and efficient way to ensure that all Americans have access to the affordable, high-quality health coverage and care they deserve. Rather than start over by creating unaffordable, new government-controlled health insurance systems like the public option, policymakers should focus on solutions that build on and improve what’s working in health care. 

To read the full report by experts at FTI Consulting, CLICK HERE.  



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