In the physician shortage, there’s a solution patients agree with — but the laws don’t
The quickest way to get less of something is to regulate it. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the health sector, which suffers from a chronic shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care.
And it’s about to get worse. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States is facing a shortfall of up to 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034, especially in rural and historically marginalized urban areas.
Many states are turning a blind eye to this looming shortage — 24 still have on their books restrictive “scope-of-practice” regulations that prevent nurse practitioners from treating patients independently, without the oversight of a physician. The rules governing physician assistants tend to be even stricter.
These laws needlessly restrain the supply of health care — and thereby force patients to pay higher prices and endure longer waits. Removing or at the very least relaxing them, by contrast, would improve patient access to primary care — and reduce overall health costs in the process.