WASHINGTON (Dec. 11, 2019)—Primary care doctors are increasingly difficult to come by, and the most recent projected shortages show that reforms are necessary for Americans to be able to receive the services they need.

In a new policy short, R Street Commercial Freedom Resident Fellow Courtney Joslin finds that the projected primary care shortage in the United States threatens the ability of Americans to receive the health care they need on a regular basis. In fact, virtually every state is facing an alarming shortage of primary care doctors, and reform measures must be taken.

Joslin demonstrates that current medical licensing requirements for advanced health care professionals like nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists overly restrict their ability to practice the services they are trained and able to perform. Licensing reform in the states would therefore help these practitioners better contribute to the primary care field.

She argues that scope-of-practice reform, or reform that expands the duties that these medical professionals can legally perform, would benefit patients and the primary care workforce.

The author concludes: “allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners and pharmacists to work to the fullest extent of their expertise is a win-win for primary care providers and patients. These professionals already work with physicians in the primary care space and, with sensible scope-of-practice reform, can better contribute to the primary care workload.”