July 21, 2022 | Updates

New Report: National Public Option Could Lead to Increased Health Care Workforce Shortages Threatening Access to Care 

Physician shortage of 78,700 providers; 88,000 fewer nurses

WASHINGTON – A new report released today by experts at FTI Consulting, supported by the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, finds that creating a new government-controlled health insurance system known as the public option “could present additional challenges for our health care workforce by cutting its funding, straining resources used to attract and retain staff, and threatening access to care.” 

According to the study, “government rate setting under a public option may exacerbate health care workforce shortages.” A public option could also “pose an issue for workforce recruitment and retention, discouraging aspiring workers from entering the field and prompting early retirements.” 

Additionally, experts at FTI Consulting found that a public option could lead to “lower staffing levels across physician specialties, including primary care, and for the nursing workforce, worsening patient access challenges, particularly in underserved communities.” 

Key findings of the report include: 

  • A national public option could lower the physician-to-patient ratio by 10 physicians per 1,000,000 people by 2050, reducing the 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 nurses.  
  • 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. 
  • A national public option could reduce total national expenditures on physician and clinical services by nearly 1.4 percent, amounting to losses of more than $10 billion per year for providers

The report concludes that “a national public option would exacerbate the country’s widespread health care workforce shortages, contradicting policymakers’ goals to expand access to care.” 

“This report adds to the mounting evidence that creating a national public option would threaten American’s access to affordable, high-quality health care,” said Lauren Crawford Shaver, the Partnership’s executive director. “Our current system is working to expand access to affordable, high-quality health coverage and care. Rather than starting over by creating a new government-controlled health insurance system, lawmakers should focus on building on and improving what’s working in health care.” 

  • To read the full report from experts at FTI Consulting, CLICK HERE. 
  • To learn more about the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, CLICK HERE

About FTI Consulting: FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations manage change, mitigate risk and resolve disputes: financial, legal, operational, political and regulatory, reputational and transactional. With more than 4,700 employees located in 28 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges and make the most of opportunities.  For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com and connect with us on Twitter (@FTIConsulting), Facebook and LinkedIn. 

About the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future: The Partnership for America’s Health Care Future’s (PAHCF) mission is to build on what’s working in health care and fix what’s not.  Every American deserves access to affordable health coverage and high-quality care.  Our health care system allows tens of millions of patients and families to receive world-class care delivered by world-class doctors and hospitals. But we can and must do more to ensure health care works for all Americans.  That’s why the nation’s leading doctors, nurses, clinicians, community hospitals, health insurance providers, and biopharmaceutical companies want to work together to lower costs, protect patient choice, expand access, improve quality and foster innovation.  And whether it’s called Medicare for All, Medicare buy-in, or the public option, one-size-fits-all health care will never allow us to achieve those goals.  That’s why we support building on the strength of employer-provided health coverage and preserving Medicare, Medicaid, and other proven solutions that hundreds of millions of Americans depend on – to expand access to affordable, high-quality coverage for every American. 



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