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Capitol Health Call
December 18, 2013

GAO: HRSA Physician Workforce Projections Need Updating

JAMA. 2013;310(23):2496. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.284039

The federal agency responsible for monitoring health care workforce adequacy has not issued any projections of supply and demand since 2008, leaving members of Congress without important and up-do-date information as they create budgets for training to ensure an adequate future health care workforce, reports the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

In 2008, using data more than a decade old, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)—the agency that monitors supply of and demand for health care professionals—projected a shortfall of 49 000 physicians by 2020. Further muddying the lawmakers’ budgetary waters, the Association of American Medical Colleges projected a gap of 124 000 physicians by 2025, whereas a report in Health Affairs suggested that increases in productivity, from greater use of technology and incorporation of nonphysician health care workers into team-based care, could offset projected shortages of primary care physicians.