Family Doctors Open to Governor’s Plan to Expand Access

HARRISBURG, (PRNewswire-USNewswire) – Pennsylvania family physicians are pleased that a state healthcare reform plan has been unveiled by Gov. Edward G. Rendell and that primary care is taking center stage.

“Health care reform is finally taking shape in Pennsylvania, and it’s focused on the most efficient and effective form of health care — primary care,” said Russell Breish, MD, (Phila.), president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians, an organization that represents the commonwealth’s family doctors.

Breish and other health care leaders were invited to meet with Rendell Wednesday morning for a preview of the governor’s reform plan, “Prescription for Pennsylvania.” The governor then announced his plan just after noon, which calls for a number of changes including steering patients out of emergency rooms, investing in health technology, expanding access in underserved areas and making affordable insurance available to uninsured Pennsylvanians.

The governor said he plans to expand access by providing total loan forgiveness for providers who commit to practicing in underserved areas. The PAFP has asked for an expansion of the existing program in years past and already works closely with the Department of Health to promote the program and get family physicians into physician shortage areas. The Primary Health Care Practitioner Program of the Department of Health places more family physicians in rural and underserved areas than any other provider type.

“We were particularly pleased with the proposal to provide 100 percent loan forgiveness because medical school debt plays a huge role in what specialty students choose and where they practice,” said Breish. “We were also happy with the governor’s commitment to a team approach and with the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association’s statement that nurse practitioners will continue to be part of the healthcare team in a collaborative relationship with physicians.

“The plan looks promising for expanding access, and we look forward to hearing more of the details and working with the governor,” said Breish.

The Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians was founded in 1948 and represents more than 4,700 family physicians, family medicine residents and medical students. Learn more about family medicine in Pennsylvania at .

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