New Study Proves the Physician-Shortage Bill Would Drive the State’s Economy and Patient Access to Care

In an effort to discover how the passage of a legislative proposal to combat the state’s severe physician shortage would affect the state’s economy and patient access to care, AzHHA commissioned an independent economic-impact study, which was released last week. At a high level, it shows “the state and rural areas could realize significant economic and fiscal benefits” over the next ten years, and expanded patient access to care, if Arizona Senate Bill (SB) 1354 is passed. Read on for details.

In support of patients across Arizona—that means all of us—AzHHA commissioned an independent study to uncover the possible economic effects of passing Senate Bill 1354, which has the goal of putting a tourniquet on our state’s severe physician shortage. The bill also would substantially increase patients’ ability to find doctors, ensuring access to care when and where it’s needed.

The Back-Story of Arizona’s Physician Shortage

Arizona’s primary care physician (PCP) shortage is one of the worst in the nation. It meets only 42% of the state’s PCP needs, according to the University of Arizona Center for Rural Healthcare. The goal of SB 1354 is to increase PCP-to-patient access to care, which currently is at a 1 to 1,000 ratio on average throughout the state. For rural areas, it’s much worse. For example, in Yuma the ratio is 1 to 2,700.

Why SB 1354, and Why Now?

Since it’s AzHHA’s mission to build better healthcare and health for Arizonans, we know the shortage of doctors is a problem that needs immediate attention. With Maricopa County alone set to double in population by 2040, we need to solidify a plan today to meet the healthcare needs of Arizonans tomorrow.

SB 1354 would enable hospitals across the state to increase the number of post-graduate physician residents they train through state funding that was cut more than a decade ago.

This means it would immediately put a tourniquet on medical undergraduates’ exodus from Arizona. These graduates are forced to leave the state because Arizona doesn’t have enough post-graduate residency positions available.

Med Students Stay Where They Train

We know that almost 75% of medical students who finish their post-graduate residency training in Arizona stay in Arizona. The state funding for physician residencies provided by SB 1354 would move the needle on the state’s physician shortage and be a game-changer for rural communities, who are at much greater risk.

How (and Why) Does the Bill Help the Economy?

The independent study, prepared by economic and policy consultants at the Rounds Consulting Group, Inc., shows that increasing the number of physician residents at three rural hospitals alone would result in 845 new high-paying jobs and $911 million in economic output over ten years.

The consulting firm’s President and Chief Economist Jim Rounds explains that even though the study was limited to three hospitals, the same economics apply at the state level. He is convinced that further studies would show the statewide impact could be four or five times higher.

For urban and rural areas alike, additional physicians means economic and fiscal impact in job creation. Rural areas reap the additional benefits of attracting new businesses, second homes and retirees who need quality medical care.

“Hospitals represent a critical driver of the Arizona economy, helping directly and indirectly generate 177,000 jobs and $24 billion in economic impact,” AzHHA President and CEO Ann-Marie Alameddin explains further.

The Program’s Break-Even Point

From a fiscal standpoint, the program SB 1354 would put into place breaks even after 15 years. The annual state tax revenue generated by the program will repay 71% of the annual cost of the program, and be segued back to the state general fund.

In addition to restoring funding for post-graduate physician residencies, SB 1354 also helps alleviate the physician shortage by appropriating state funds to four other programs: the University of Arizona Medical School, primary care provider loan repayment, medical student loan repayments, and nurse training.

Follow these Steps Today to Ensure Your Own Access to Care When You Need It

If you are reading this, you live in Arizona and receive health care in Arizona. This graduate medical education bill impacts you, your family, friends and colleagues by helping to provide access to care you will need.

We have made it easy to contact your state legislator today. Follow these steps to send a note to your legislator as they consider this proposal so urgent to our health and health care system.

  1. Click here to stop the severe shortage of doctors and nurses in Arizona.
  2. Add a Subject line to your note.
  3. In the Message Body, we have developed a note for you; please personalize it with your own words.
  4. Enter Your Info, so your legislator knows who you are.
  5. Click the Send Message

When it comes to our health, we each play a role in securing the right support. Through Better Care, Better Health and Lower Costs, together we will make Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation.

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