The Issue: Shortage of Medical Professionals in Our Area
More and more doctors are leaving the area or retiring and there is a shortage of nurses and other essential medical professionals. It’s hard to obtain quality health care when there aren’t enough doctors, nurses and other medical support staff.
In Washington it is difficult to run a successful medical practice.
Given the high cost of living and low reimbursement in our state, many physicians find it difficult to stay in business. New physicians, hearing that Washington is not a good place to practice, are not choosing to practice here. Low Medicare and Medicaid payments and skyrocketing medical liability insurance rates make it very difficult to pay competitive staff salaries.
The nurse shortage is becoming acute.
There is a severe nurse shortage in this area and throughout the country. Hospitals, clinics and individual practices are scrambling to find qualified nurses. Many existing nurses are retiring and with numerous other career options, not as many women are entering the profession. There is also insufficient funding for nursing programs throughout the state. Other medical staff including medical assistants and imaging technicians are also in short supply.
Shortage of medical professionals reduces access to care and increases costs.
If patients can’t find doctors they often delay treatment, potentially making health problems worse. Some resort to emergency rooms for routine care, driving up health care costs and possibly harming patients facing life-threatening situations.
How can we solve this problem?
Some potential solutions include:
- Provide more funding to colleges for medical training courses.
- Increase Medicare and Medicaid payments to cover the costs of service and streamline paperwork.
- Reform medical liability laws. In California legislation was passed saving close to $2 billion.
- Offer incentives to encourage doctors and medical professionals to locate in underserved areas.
What can you do?
You can make a difference by keeping informed about important health care issues and writing to your Elected Officials. Let them know that health care funding is important. We’ve developed a Sample Letter that you can send directly to your elected officials or you can add a personal touch to the letter before sending it. Your voice needs to be heard. Learn more about how to Get Involved.