The Primary Care Physician Income Gap: PRR Part of the Solution

The primary care physician shortage in the U.S. is blamed on many factors, including an aging population, physician burnout and new physicians seeking specialty practices because of higher pay. On that latter issue, researchers and think tanks regularly recommend a variety of solutions to bridge the income gap between specialists and primary care physicians. For example, the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy urged changes to Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedules and student loan forgiveness as two ways to both level the income playing field and encourage more primary care physicians. 

Physician Retraining & Reentry participants are generally further along in their careers — meaning they are not focusing on income and have usually settled their student loans. However, that doesn’t mean some government initiatives won’t benefit PRR graduates who have retrained and reentered practice as primary care physicians. 

For instance, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced earlier this year the launch of the Primary Care First Model to test whether Medicare expenditures could be reduced, care quality enhanced and better patient outcomes would come from a new voluntary alternative payment model.  

There are also loan repayment opportunities from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Bureau of Health Workforce. The BHW received $900 million in new funding this year from the American Rescue Plan Act for various programs, including those designed to increase the number of primary care physicians providing care to high-need, underserved communities. 

While PRR is pleased whenever the government takes an interest in initiatives designed to address the primary care physician shortage, we are proud to play a part in building that workforce through retraining.  

Mostly, we are grateful to the 150+ PRR graduates who also recognized the need for more primary care physicians and dedicated themselves to educating themselves to be a part of the solution. Many PRR graduates are nearing retirement or have returned from time away from their practice and see primary care as a way to selflessly contribute to the health and well-being of the community. We are proud to support them in their practice. 

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