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Connecticut sees concerning number of doctors leaving the state

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(WTNH) — A health care crisis is looming as more doctors are leaving Connecticut.

“We are not back-filling, we do not have new physicians coming to the state…,” said Matthew Katz with the Connecticut State Medical Society.

Katz stated that this is a big problem, considering that a third of physicians in the state are over the age of 60.

The fact is, fewer and fewer young doctors are choosing to practice in Connecticut.

“We see physicians choose Detroit or South Dakota over Connecticut,” Katz said.

They have the best and brightest being trained at in-state medical schools like Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Quinnipiac University.

“Even the residents we know very well don’t want to stay in Connecticut,” said Dr. Paul Fortgang, an ear, nose and throat specialist.Related Content: Connecticut health exchange CEO to step down in April

So, why is it happening?

Dr. Fortgang points to several reasons.

“Some has to do with Connecticut’s tax structure, the influence of the two main medical centers, Yale and UConn, being so powerful,” he said. “Liability insurance is higher in this state in many fields than other states.”

Katz explained that the state’s regulatory system also needs to be addressed.

“They can’t do certain things without state approval,” he said. “They can’t buy equipment, they can’t provide surgical services. That isn’t the case in most places in the country, so we have a regulatory system that burdens physicians.”

State Senator Heather Somers, Co-Chair of the Public Health Committee, stated, “So, there are layers and layers of licensing and bureaucracy here in Connecticut.”Related Content: How to keep your health insurance after open enrollment

She continued, “Why do we regulate something that’s already regulated by the federal government?”

But, she said, legislative efforts to make changes to the system have faced push back from the legal community.

She believes Massachusetts is just one of the states doing a better job than Connecticut when it comes to recruiting and retaining young M.D.’s.

“They’ve come up with a new medical malpractice system that has really eased that process,” she said. “It’s reduced their costs by about $2 billion, what I call, ‘define or preventative medical extra tests and procedures’ that are done just to prevent a doctor from being sued with a malpractice case.”

Obviously, fewer doctors means longer waiting times when you’re in need of care. Also, it could get tougher to find space at a new office if your doctor retires or moves out of state.Related Content: New Haven Healthy Start Connects Expectant Moms with Resources

Furthermore, doctors and their staffs pump a huge amount of money into the Connecticut economy.

“They generate approximately ten jobs per doctor,” said Katz. “That’s billions of dollars in drive for the state and billions of dollars in taxes.”

But, there is hope for the future in people like Dr. Julia Rosenberg, a Connecticut native and pediatric resident at Yale.

“I’m excited to stay in New Haven,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “I’ve made a lot of connections in the community and I’m excited to work with the community here.”Web Extra: Connecticut sees shortage of doctors

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