The Hawaii State Legislature has voted to continue the Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment, which is studying the state’s doctor shortage and implementing ways to recruit and retain more medical providers. The bill authorizes a fee on physician licenses to fund the assessment, with the goal of attracting more doctors to practice in rural and underserved communities.

“We are grateful the Legislature continues to recognize the profound negative impact of the worsening physician shortage,” said Jerris R. Hedges, Dean of the University of Hawai`i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). “The vote on May 3 makes it possible to continue important efforts to meet the health care needs of Hawai`i’s residents.”

Under the measure, JABSOM will administer a fee-generated fund of about $245,000 annually. The school will submit an annual report on its use of the fund to the legislature, the state health planning and development agency, and the Hawai`i medical board. The fee would expire after 2017.

The latest figures from the Hawai`i Physician Workforce Assessment show the state is about 600 physicians short of the number considered necessary for a population its size. The shortage is expected to grow to 1,200 physicians by 2020.

The 2009 Hawai`i State Legislature created the Hawai`i Physician Workforce Assessment to determine the number of licensed physicians in Hawai`i who are currently treating patients and to estimate the future needs statewide for physicians based on Hawai`i’s population and the availability of practitioners in certain medical specialties areas (i.e., cardiology, etc.). The physician license fee to fund the assessment was set to expire in June 2012.

The assessment, led by JABSOM, is funded by a $60 fee imposed on MD licenses (licenses are renewed every two years).

For detailed information on the April 2012 updated physician workforce data, see: UH Med Workforce Study 2012

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