A bill to help address Wisconsin’s physician shortage and mental health access gap was recently passed by the State Legislature. The bill, which enjoyed strong bipartisan support, was championed by Representative Lee Nerison. As the president of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, I would like to thank Rep. Nerison and the Legislature for their work on this critical legislation.
According to a recent report, Wisconsin needs to train or recruit 100 new doctors a year to keep up with demand. Many of the new doctors needed are primary care physicians who often provide front-line mental health treatment to their patients. In numerous cases, the family doctor is not only the first person a patient turns to for mental health care but is the ONLY person he/she will see for treatment. The bill, which will hopefully be signed by Gov. Scott Walker, would create a physician shortage grant program to provide financial incentives to primary care physicians and psychiatrists who practice in medically underserved areas of Wisconsin. As a practicing physician, I’m confident the legislation will meet its goal of attracting new physicians to Wisconsin and increasing access to critical mental health services. Again, I would like to thank Rep. Nerison and his legislative colleagues for their commitment to improving access to care in Wisconsin.
Suzanne Gehl, MD
President, Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians