- A new report by Merritt Hawkins, a physician recruitment firm, shows that there has been a drop-off in hospital hiring of physicians.
- Between April of last year and March of this year, 51% of the 3,120 searches for physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants were on behalf of hospitals and hospital-owned practices, a pretty big drop from the 64% of physician searches by hospitals the previous two years.
- This is the first drop the firm has seen since 2003-2004, when hospitals accounted for only 11% of physician searches.
Merritt Hawkins believes one reason for the drop is the high rate of hspital closures, particularly in rural areas. Other potential contributors include budget sequestration, reductions in federal disproportionate share payments, states choosing not to expand Medicaid and other healthcare organizations stepping up their physician recruitment efforts. "It's more of a diversified market," said Travis Singleton, senior vice president of Merritt Hawkins.
However, Singleton doesn't think this is the beginning of a trend. "I won't be surprised if [hospital demand for physicians] goes back up," Singleton said. The reason Singleton believes physician hiring by hospitals will bounce back is the Supreme Court's recent decision to uphold the federal premium subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, which basically removed the last major barrier to full implementation of the controversial healthcare law. "We will see more and more hospitals get more into the game," said Singleton. "The course is set."