Local access to health professionals varies widely across Georgia, from relative availability in populous Fulton County to the daunting challenge found in many rural communities. State trends mask the nuanced differences among Georgia’s regions. Evidence indicates nearly two-thirds of Georgia’s counties fall below the statewide average number for each professional category of nurses, physician assistants, total doctors and primary care doctors per 100,000 residents. Eighty-nine percent, or 141 of Georgia’s 159 counties, are below the statewide average for doctors per 100,000 residents, while 129 of 159 offer fewer primary care physicians than the average.
This analysis shows:
- Where Georgia’s health care provider shortages are and who is underserved
- How state investment to increase Medicaid eligibility as well as the rates paid to providers helps the state’s health care system by working as both a lifeline to struggling rural hospitals and also a strong incentive for additional health care workers to become part of the system
- How to build on an existing student loan reimbursement program that provides recent medical school graduates with an incentive to practice for a while in underserved parts of Georgia
- How other policy tools such as increasing the role of non-physician providers can bolster system capacity where physician shortages are the greatest