Wall Street Journal | Business | January 12, 2010, 12:00 A.M. ET
Lower Salaries, Reimbursement Rates Create Shortfall of Specialists; Kenneth’s Seven-Month Wait for an Appointment
A growing shortage of pediatricians trained in specialties such as neurology, gastroenterology, and developmental and behavioral medicine is threatening timely access to care for children, according to pediatric medical groups.
As the House and Senate intensify the process of melding their two health bills, pediatric groups are lobbying to secure more funding for training and higher reimbursement for pediatric sub-specialties, in the hope of encouraging more doctors-in-training to enter the field. Specialization typically requires up to three years of training beyond a general pediatrics residency and can pay salaries less than half the rate of adult specialty medicine. At present, 17 states lack at least one physician in one of 13 sub-specialties.
A new Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) report reveals a severe shortage of pediatric rheumatologists in the U.S. and calls for a 75 percent increase in the number of pediatric rheumatologists.