Medicare and the Future of America’s Health Care Workforce

Medicare for All and the Future of America’s Health Care Workforce

Economic Consulting | Healthcare & Life Sciences

January 17, 2020

As baby boomers age and the U.S. population grows, America’s health care workforce is ill-equipped to meet the health care needs of the population under the current system.

FTI Consulting’s independent economic analysis indicates that proposals to implement a Medicare for All system, specifically one that relies upon Medicare payment levels, threaten to accelerate the looming workforce crisis. The resulting effects on access to care stem not from deliberate denials of care under a new system, but instead from the diminished capacity of the health care workforce to meet the needs of the population.

Already, the U.S. is facing a health care workforce shortage that could reach 151,000 direct care workers1 and 121,300 physicians by 2030.2 While the underlying causes of projected workforce shortages are varied and complex, most are tied directly to low reimbursement rates and the resulting negative effects on wages and staffing. Particularly for rural and underserved communities, extending Medicare payment systems to a broader population could have a significant negative impact on the adequacy of the country’s health care workforce, access to care, and, ultimately, patient outcomes.


1. Osterman P. Who Will Care for Us?: Long-Term Care and the Long-Term Workforce. New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation; 2017.

2. IHS Markit ltd. The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2017 to 2032. Association of American Medical Colleges; 2019. Accessed December 10, 2019.

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