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Family physicians need our support

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The following letter by Dr. Wendy Barr of Arlington and Dr. Daniel J. McCullough of Marblehead was published March 23 in The Boston Globe under the general headline "The ills of our primary care system are spreading,"and this specific headline, “We need to do more to support the training of family physicians.” It is republished with the author's permission. 

We are in a primary care crisis of our own making due to decades of neglect and disinvestment. As Felice J. Freyer’s article points out, a major cause is poor primary care reimbursement.

While the PC4You bill that has been introduced in the Legislature is a promising step, payment reform, while necessary, is not sufficient to address this crisis. Our state and federal governments and Massachusetts’ academic medical centers and health care institutions must step up and support training more family physicians.

Per the Milbank 2024 Primary Care Scorecard, Massachusetts and New Hampshire have the two lowest percentages of new physicians practicing primary care.

This is not surprising when only 4 percent of first-year residency slots in Massachusetts are in family medicine (compared with 13 percent nationally). Every major academic health center and hospital should have a family medicine department that can develop, grow, and support primary care from medical school through practice to expand the number of primary care doctors trained in Massachusetts.  

        This letter was republished Friday, March 29. 2024.

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