THE US HEALTH SYSTEM FACES ONGOING CHALLENGES in addressing its shortcomings in access and quality. 1 Against a foreground of uneven and fragmented care lies a bleak background of unrelentingly accelerating costs. Although the problems of quality and costs are long-standing, several organizations have recently asserted that there is a new impending health care "tragedy"2: the physician workforce shortage. In contrast to the extensively documented problems of quality and affordability, the inference of a physician shortage rests on a less robust set of analyses. Assertions of a physician shortage warrant a critical examination because more physicians will compete for new resources against already well-documented health system needs.
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