Both Texas and the U.S. will need more family physicians to care for millions of newly insured flowing into the health care system in 2014.
Texas has a large, growing population that is growing sicker and needs more and better-coordinated health care services. Unfortunately, Texas – even more than most of the rest of the country – needs more physicians and other health care professionals. Although our 2003 liability reforms have brought an influx of new physicians, the current supply won’t be able to keep up with the demand, especially if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) withstands constitutional scrutiny. We need more physicians and other health care professionals working in all parts of the state, especially in rural and border Texas. We need to invest more in our medical schools and graduate medical education training programs. We should not fool ourselves into thinking that allied health professionals – who haven’t gone to medical school – can fill the gap as independent practitioners. Instead, we need to work on building physician-led health care teams that can safely meet the diverse needs of the Texas population.