Access to primary care is one of the crucial challenges facing the health care system. As payers and providers try to rein in specialist and acute care overuse, preventive medicine and patient education — central aspects of primary care — have become more important than ever, especially as the baby boomer generation ages into Medicare plans. Yet a shortage of primary care physicians (PCPs) has frustrated efforts to manage care systemwide. Physician assistants and nurse practitioners have started to fill some demand, but the number of people with a PCP declined between 2002 and 2015, according to a December 2019 JAMA Internal Medicine study.
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