If passed, Senate Bill 1354, a bill to address health care worker shortages, would create a positive economic impact to the state according to a recent Rounds Consulting Group, Inc. report.
The report, which was commissioned by the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AzHHA), reports that “over the next ten years, the state and rural areas could realize significant economic and fiscal benefits.”
S.B. 1354 was introduced by Senator Heather Carter (LD-15) to address the healthcare workforce shortage that Arizona has been facing for years.
The bill is a multi-part package addressing the primary care physicians (PCP) and nurse shortage by providing more money for medical programs and clinical rotations around the state, especially in rural areas.
Introduced as a $50 million budget bill, it is expected to create new spots for in-state medical students and Graduate Medical Education (GME), loan repayment programs and clinical rotation programs.
“We’ve been talking about these issues since the first day I was elected,” Carter said. “We’ve never put it in a bill format. So, I put together some of the most shovel ready ideas in a package and put them forth as one large package to address the healthcare workforce shortage from a pipeline perspective.”
Rounds Consulting Group studied three hospitals across Arizona —Yuma Regional Medical Center, Kingman Regional Medical Center and Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista — and found that if the state expanded residency programs in the three hospitals it would have a total economic output of $911 million.
“Although the study was limited to three hospitals, the same economics apply at the state level,” Jim Rounds, the consulting firm’s president and chief economist, said. “I’m certain further studies would show the statewide impact could be four or five times higher.”
According to AzHHA, the benefits of expanding residency programs would not be exclusively economic but would also “help eliminate the physician shortages that result in this limited access to care for patients statewide.”
Arizona ranks lower than the national average for number of primary care physicians (PCP) with 126.1 – including general practice, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, geriatrics and internal medicine – per 100,000 residents.
According to the University of Arizona Center for Rural Healthcare, only 42 percent of the state’s PCP needs are met, making the shortage one of the worst in the nation.
It is proven that 75 percent of physicians will stay in the state where they complete their residency, meaning if a state has more residency slots it will statistically have an increased number of physicians.
“Physicians stay where they train after graduation,” Ann Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of AzHHA, said. “Almost 75 percent of medical students who finish post-graduate training in Arizona stay in Arizona. This means state funding for physician residencies will move the needle on the state’s physician shortage and be a game-changer for rural communities.”
To view the full economic report, click here.