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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is facing a shortage of primary care doctors, and the strain could grow as more people soon gain health insurance under the federal health care law.

The state had a little less than 74 active patient care primary care doctors per 100,000 residents according to 2010 figures from the Association of American Medical Colleges. That ranked Missouri 35th and put it behind the national per capita average of more than 79 active primary care doctors.

The challenge of access to primary care doctors could grow as the federal health care law is fully implemented January 1st.

The law will require most Americans to obtain health insurance and provide subsidies to some. The Missouri Foundation for Health estimated that an additional roughly 350,000 Missourians could end up with insurance.

Published in Local News

   SPRINGFIELD, IL (AP) - Doctors providing primary care in Illinois can get higher Medicaid reimbursement rates through the end of 2014.

   Illinois officials are reminding doctors to sign up online for the higher rates, which are expected to increase by an average of 93 percent. If doctors sign up by June 30 they can get reimbursed at the higher rate retroactively to the beginning of this year.

   Julie Hamos is director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. She says the temporary raise should help increase doctors' participation in Medicaid.

   That's important because thousands of uninsured Illinois residents will be newly eligible for Medicaid in 2014.

   The pay increase for primary care was authorized by the Affordable Care Act.

 

Published in Local News

CHICAGO (AP) - Nearly 250 physicians are calling on Illinois lawmakers to legalize the use of marijuana for patients with serious illnesses.

Three physicians spoke during a news conference Tuesday. They say marijuana can be a safer and more effective treatment than narcotics for patients with diseases such as cancer and HIV.

The Illinois House is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill that would create a medical marijuana pilot program. It would allow physicians who have an existing relationship with a patient to prescribe marijuana for certain conditions. Patients would be limited to buying 2.5 ounces at a time from dispensaries regulated by the state.

Julie Falco of Chicago uses marijuana to treat multiple sclerosis symptoms. Falco says she and other patients shouldn't be considered criminals for trying to ease their suffering.

Published in Local News

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