State concerned about health worker shortage

Mar 10, 2014

Public health officials are concerned there won't be enough health care providers to serve the increased patient load that is expected under the Affordable Care Act. A state panel has released nearly two dozen recommendations to alleviate what it sees as a workforce shortage in the state.

With hundreds of thousands of people signing up for insurance in Illinois, the Department of Public Health says there will be shortages in areas ranging from community health workers to specialists. The panel's recommendations would give certain nurses more authority, allow dentists to give vaccinations, and give other medical staff more responsibilities. 

The problem is -- medical groups usually oppose such expansions, saying people in those jobs may lack adequate qualifications. State public health director, Doctor LaMar Hasbrouck says there needs to be frank discussions with medical groups:

"We need to think smart. We need to be strategic and we need to give up a little turf and a little ground so we can get it covered"

But it's easier said than done. For instance, the state medical society successfully halted efforts to allow psychologists to prescribe drugs.