Transcripts of full meetings of the council.

Good morning. My name is Mark Austerberry and I'm the Executive Director of the Philadelphia County Medical Society, better known as PCMS. PCMS is a professional membership organization of physicians who live or work in Philadelphia and represent about the interest of 4,500 physicians and their patients. Bill No. 130770 would create additional zoning barriers for new and expanding medical practices in Northeast Philadelphia, because as we understand it, there is a feeling that the situation would create new medical establishments that might cause hardships in some neighborhoods.

The proposed legislation would make it more difficult and expensive for small medical practices to be built or expand in Northeast Philadelphia, but Northeast Philadelphia needs more doctors, not less. Health Center 10, the only City health clinic in Northeast Philadelphia, is by far the busiest in the City, while waiting lists of about eight months. Two of every five Northeast Philadelphia residents either lack health insurance or are enrolled in Medicare and about 72,000 have chronic illnesses. Many would call this situation a public health crisis.

Equitable access to healthcare is a critical issue for the City, but this legislation could convince physicians such as small and solo practitioners from locating in the Northeast and instead choose Philadelphia neighborhoods or outside the City altogether.

Certain areas of Philadelphia have a difficult time attracting and retaining physicians, especially primary care physicians, because of the City's high liability insurance, high taxes, high number of Medicaid and Medicare patients. We appreciate City Council's desire to ensure that certain medical facilities do not disrupt the neighborhood, but as many pediatricians would say, please do not throw the baby out with the bath water.

We have never heard of anyone who didn't want a family physician nearby. There must be another way to ensure that Northeast Philadelphia can get the access to medical care that they need while addressing your concerns about certain facilities. The members of the Philadelphia County Medical Society ask that the support please be considered -- consider amending or holding Bill No. 130770 to address our concerns, and we thank you for your consideration.

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