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Is there a doctor in the house? Minn. could face M.D. shortage

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Primary care physicians are more readily available in Minnesota than most of the country, but experts say the state faces a looming shortage and it's only partly because of the federal health care overhaul that will extend coverage to around 300,000 uninsured residents.

That's what the Associated Press says in a story about the onset of the Affordable Care Act, carried by KARE 11.

Minnesota ranks ninth nationally in total active primary care physicians per 100,000 people, with nearly 5,000 doctors to serve nearly 5.3 million people.

The St. Cloud Times tackles the topic in central Minnesota, saying that while some parts of the nation expect the shortage of primary care physicians to worsen because of the effect of the law next year, area health care providers predict the change will be more gradual here and will not be as bad.

“We do expect that we will see an increasing shortage of primary care physicians, not only in Minnesota but across the country,” Dr. David Tilstra, president of CentraCare Clinic, tells the Times.

Aging baby boomers, retiring doctors and the high cost of medical school also are contributing to the shortage of primary care physicians, says the St. Cloud paper.

Rural areas have long had troubles attracting physicians, the doctor tells the times. In Central Minnesota, scores show the greatest need for primary care doctors in parts of Morrison and Mille Lacs counties and in the western portion of Stearns County.

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