MONTGOMERY – Earlier this week, the Association’s Manpower Shortage Task Force met in person for the first time to begin addressing a resolution adopted by the House of Delegates at the 2018 Annual Meeting in April. The resolution, submitted by the Pickens County Medical Society, directs the Association’s new task force to develop and restore adequate health care manpower in all geographic areas in order to provide quality local health care for all Alabama citizens.
Members of the task force discussed a number of issues but focused on the importance of fully funding the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards, scope of practice, physician pipeline programs, education and the possibility of GME expansion, recruitment and retention of physicians through meaningful tax credits and rural community support, and start-up business models.
Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar and Dave White from the Governor’s Office joined the meeting to hear the concerns of the task force and take their report back to Gov. Kay Ivey.
“Because this was the first face-to-face meeting of the task force, we had a lot of ground to cover,” said Executive Director Mark Jackson. “Naturally there are a lot of concerns about health care shortages in rural areas, but our goal is a long-term solution. The members of the task force realize this isn’t an easy fix, which is why they were willing to express their concerns openly and honestly to the Governor’s staff.”
The task force and the resolution stand as a reminder that Alabama ranks in the last five of 50 states in health status categories, and while primary care medicine is effective in raising health status, supporting hospitals and improving the economic status of disadvantaged communities, the state’s aging population is causing an escalation in need for primary care physicians.