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I have written about how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will add to delays in treating workers compensation and disability insurance claimants by aggravating a nationwide doctor shortage.
To be clear, the doctor shortage was already underway before the ACA's introduction.
And here is one reason why the problem hasn't been fixed: medical schools have done what they can to increase enrollment, graduating about 7,000 more doctors annually. But there has been a freeze on Medicare funding for doctor training since 1997, according to the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.
So although more doctors are graduating from medical school they are not going on to residency programs, which have traditionally been supported with federal dollars.
It's just one more problem Congress is not focused on. And if Congress does get past its current bickering to focus on our nation's problems, this one will take years to right because it takes three or more years to get doctors through their residencies.
It only makes sense that a doctor shortage will delay medical treatment for most people including workers comp claimants. And as we all know in the comp world, timely medical attention is vital for improved return-to-work outcomes.