Virginia may not have the doctors needed to handle the influx of patients expected under the federal Affordable Care Act, according to a new report.
Virginia has more than 16,000 doctors across the state, but 48 percent are primary care doctors. One problem is that primary care physicians make considerably less money than medical practitioners in specialty fields, according to a report by the state's Joint Commission on Health Care.
Additionally, economically distressed regions are having a tough time retaining primary care doctors and medical professionals of any type. The physician-to-population ratio is especially low in the Southside, Southwest and some urban areas. Additionally, nearly 20 percent of doctors expect to retire in the next five years.
Commission member and Senator George Barker says the state must now decide how to attract and retain more physicians. Barker says lawmakers will submit several proposals in the upcoming and later legislative sessions, but any solutions will take time to implement and be effective.
There are an estimated 844,000 uninsured people in Virginia.