Students and Residents in Family Medicine Want Equity

Students and residents should focus AAFP upon equity. Equity in payment would be a good start. Dollars are maldistributed in health care and this contributes to inequities in workforce, access and outcomes as disparities drive social and other determinants of health the wrong way.

AAFP wants to present the best case scenarios to students and residents, but there are major issues that must be addressed. Equity is indeed and important theme worthy of discussion

Equitable payments for primary care, mental health, and basic services should be most important for student or residents that truly hope to deliver these basics - especially in places with half of Americans where inequity and disparities dominate.  There should be no deception that most Americans are doing well. American health, education, and economic outcomes indicate that few do very well and most are left behind. Future family physicians deserve to know the big picture as family physicians are most likely to care for those left behind in multiple dimensions.

Inequities Cognitive Vs Procedural

Basics including cognitive and office services should be paid more and procedural, technical, subspecialized should be paid less to obtain equity in workforce and equity in distribution of workforce

Inequities Higher Vs Lower Concentration Counties

The designers have created for themselves multiple lines of revenue and the highest reimbursement goes to those in highest concentrations of workforce. Inequity is over 50% of health care spending going to 1% of the land area in 1100 zip codes with just 10% of the population but 45% of physicians. So much for so few in few locations makes equity impossible. Since outcomes are minimal at high cost, value is low across US health care.

Attempts to address inequities in payment are vigorously resisted by the academic, association, institution, foundation, corporation designers.

Equity Translates To...

Equity would translate to equitable access, equitable distribution of workforce, and equitable payments. Equity in payment is required so that training interventions can result in equitable distributions of workforce.

Even if students or residents want to provide primary care or care where needed - the designs make this most difficult. Too few positions are supported.

Equity in Access

Access is impaired by 2 to 3 times less local workforce for 40% of Americans in 2621 lowest physician concentration counties - counties that receive less than 13% of health spending and only have 22% of primary care workforce. The only equitably distributed workforce is family medicine with 36% of family physicians to match up best to this 40% of the nation. All other specialties concentrate in counties with higher to highest concentrations of physicians - leaving most Americans behind along with higher concentrations of elderly, Veterans, disabled, and others most complex and least served.

The 2621 lowest physician concentrations have lowest concentrations of MD DO NP and PA workforce because the counties have concentrations of people with the worst paying plans. They also have concentrations of people with lesser social determinants in places with least economic impact.

These 2621 counties only get about 40 billion in primary care revenue each year. Payments are 15% lower for the same services. This translates to 6.6 billion less in payment. Equitable payment would go a long way to support primary care teams and higher functions - denied by design. Collections issues result in 5 - 10% less for 2 to 4 billion less.

HITECH to MACRA has diverted 8 to 10 billion that can no longer be used to support care delivery. In fact it never gets a chance to circulate locally as it comes in and goes out before it can help address jobs, economics, or social determinants. The design concentrates health care dollars in higher concentrations and results in less equity for lower concentration counties.

Payment inequities make matters worse. Payments are lower for primary care and are 20% lower for the same services in these lowest physician concentration counties. HITECH to MACRA has resulted in over $100,000 per primary care physician in uncompensated cost of delivery increases. Payments lower, costs of delivery higher, and complexity of patients greater is the opposite of equity.

Widening Inequities By Design - Does Family Medicine Care?

These 2621 lowest physician concentration counties are growing faster in population and in numbers of counties:
  • Inequities in payments for basic services continue to result in small and rural hospital closures which decrease local workforce
  • Specialties other than family medicine exit counties without hospitals to add more counties to the 2621 lowest concentration counties.  
  • Small practices are more common in lowest concentration counties and small practices are also being compromised by payments too low, costs of delivery too high, and complexity increasing
  • Affordable housing is vanishing in higher concentration counties and most in these counties are paying too much already. The housing crisis picks off the most vulnerable in physical, mental health, and financial need. Many have no choice other than to move to lowest workforce concentration counties lowest in resources but often with better cost of housing, better cost of living, and better climate.
Inequities Made Worse By Design After Design

A few Americans benefit from financial designs that put more wealth into the hands of fewer leaving most Americans behind.

About 74% of top college positions go to children of top income quartile parents with only 3% arising from the bottom quartile and less than 13% from the bottom half in income.

Health care dollar distributions shape similar inequities. By 2040 half of the US population will reside in 2800 - 2900 lowest physician concentration counties because of hospital inequities, inequities in education funding, and inequities in housing that drive the most vulnerable in physical, mental, and financial capabilities to reside in lowest concentration counties with least resources, worst social determinants, and greatest patient complexities.

The top 79 physician concentration counties with 10% of the population receive over $30,000 per person in health spending while the 2621 lowest physician concentration counties receive $3000 per person in spending - ten times less. Highly specialized services added, more new and expensive drugs, precision medicine, increased administrative costs, more practice consultants, more software, and more health info tech all divert dollars from lowest to higher concentration counties.

Six states have top concentrations of physicians and residency training. Thirty states have lower to lowest concentrations of physicians and residency training. The 2621 lowest physician concentration counties with 40% of Americans only have 6% of residency training. Because these counties have too little spending, there is no chance that any training intervention can actually reduce inequities in distribution of workforce. The nurse practitioner and physician assistant maldistributions plus expansions actually worsen health spending disparities.

The leadership of AAFP often shapes the information going to students and residents, but students and residents should do their own exploration and analysis. They should pay close attention:
  • to their future 
  • to more equitable future for them and for their patients,
  • to a more equitable future for half of Americans left behind by design.
Should students focus on small proportions of the population or should they consider half of the US population a worthy cause to address?

Perhaps students and residents can help the Families of Family Medicine to understand that they need to reconsider innovation, regulation, and certification that make care more complex, add to costs of delivery, decrease productivity, and add to inequities in payments, workforce, and access - by design.

Family Medicine Must Move Beyond the 1960s Design to Address the 2040s

Business Models Large Vs Small Primary Care Practices 
The GME Lie Distracts from Payment Reform 
Veterans Not the Only Ones Driven Out of Housing and Out of Town
Focus on Change Agents to Change the Culture to Healthier

Why Are More Federal Dollars for Graduate Medical Education Still Not Able to Produce the Workforce Needed for Most Americans Now and Especially Not in the Future?
Insanity and Discrimination in Payment Design Help to Maintain Shortages of Workforce and Access Barriers








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