When the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate takes effect in 2014, some 30 million newly covered patients—people generally treated in emergency rooms now—will be shopping for doctors. That’s a problem because the U.S. has 15,230 fewer primary-care physicians than it needs, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Yet teaching hospitals aren’t rushing to fill the void. The federal government foots most of the bill for residency programs—and Congress has capped enrollment at about 85,000 students for the last 15 years. “We’re actually already later than we should be in addressing the issue,” says Tom Price, a Republican congressman from Georgia who’s also an orthopedic surgeon.