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47 million uninsured Americans do have access to care, albeit
two main sources: emergency departments and mid-level providers such as
America’s 70,000 Physician Assistants. The former is often inappropriate
very expensive; the latter extremely cost-effective.
PAs are an elegant solution to the doctor shortfall. Their training
is shorter and
emphasizes primary and preventive care. They are mature men and women,
with prior health care experience, often recruited from underserved
to which they return after graduation. They do not demand exorbitant
salaries. The number of graduates can be anticipated and finessed to meet
regional shortfalls. Investment in PA training, and provision of care to
Americans, is the right way to go.
PAs have a seat at the Obama health care reform table. I am
surprised that Dr
Epperly et al did not mention them.
Recipient of the American
Academy of Physician Assistants'
2009 "Service to the Underserved"
No competing interests
26 August 2009
Margaret E Allen
Ravenswood Family Health Center, East Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA