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Exacerbating the primary care shortage: MedCity Morning Read, Nov. 30, 2009

Senate health overhaul legislation fails to contain a key measure that could raise the supply of primary care doctors: Medical colleges want funding for more than 15,000 additional slots per year for graduate residencies in primary care and general surgery.

Image by Seattle Municipal Archivesvia Flickr

Highlights of the important and the interesting in the world of health care:

Exacerbating the primary care shortage: Some Senators are complaining that the Senate health bill would worsen the nation’s already problematic shortage of primary care doctors. By adding around 30 million people to the insurance rolls, the legislation is expected to bring a rise in demand for primary care doctors.

But the legislation fails to contain a key measure that could raise the supply of primary care doctors: Medical colleges want funding for more than 15,000 additional slots per year for graduate residencies in primary care and general surgery, the Wall Street Journal reports. Senate leaders have been reluctant to include the measure because it would add $10 billion to $15 billion to the legislation’s price tag.

The truth about health insurers, from health insurers: The Health Care Blog notes a revealing statement from Karen Ignagni, who runs the health insurance lobbying arm called AHIP. According to Washington Post: “Unless lawmakers institute changes across the entire system, Ignagni said in a statement Wednesday, ‘Health costs will continue to weigh down the economy and place a crushing burden on employers and families.'”

The notable thing here is that Ignani is admitting that health plans have no power to control health costs. And, as the Health Care Blog points out, it’s in the insurers’ interests to see that costs continue to rise. In the battle to fight endlessly spiraling health costs, everyone should remember that health insurers have a very good reason to be on the opposite side of the rest of us.

Health savings start in the cafeteria: The New York Times takes a look at Full Yield, a startup that “has been working to create a 12-month nutritional program different from anything that’s been tried in the workplace before.”  Full Yield aims to make employees at client companies healthier by convincing them to stock its nutritious food at corporate cafeterias. Clients include the city of Boston and the firm John Hancock. And there’s one component of Full Yield’s get-healthy plan that many of us will like:

Unlike most corporate nutrition and weight-loss programs, which offer predictable prescriptions about portion size and calorie control, [Full Yield]’s plan allows employees surprising amounts of free rein in deciding how much to eat. “You can eat when you’re hungry, as much as you want, as long as you pay attention to when you’re full,” she advises. “And then you can eat again whenever you feel hungry.”

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