Colleges have increased the size of medical programs to produce more doctors. The state also has increased reimbursements to doctors, to make treating state-insured patients more appealing.
Urgent care facilities also have sprung up, Dunlap said, to capture itinerant patients.
"Early on, you're going to see more people in the emergency room because they don't have a primary care physician," he said.
Doctors and hospitals do not want to see non-emergency patients going to ERs, however, because they are vastly more expensive than a regular doctor's appointment and visiting the emergency room with a sore throat or earache can tie up resources for people with actual emergencies.
Dunlap said urgent care facilities began opening in Massachusetts following its health care expansion to draw patients away from ERs.
Increasing reimbursements to doctors also was an important piece of the health care expansion, Dunlap said.
In 2004, Massachusetts paid doctors $38.24 for a routine visit to an internal medicine physician. Now, doctors are paid $53.81 for that same visit.
"If you don't reimburse doctors well, they don't want to take on the risk," Dunlap said.
According to a 2011 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Massachusetts now has the third best doctor-to-patient ratio in the country. There were 7,144 actively practicing primary care physicians in the state, about one for every 928 residents.
West Virginia ranked 16th in that report, with about one primary care physician per 1,164 residents.
It's unclear what, if anything, West Virginia will do to address a potential doctor shortage.
Officials have not released details on how West Virginia will expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, saying they are waiting on guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
CMS released a 606-page report Friday afternoon detailing rules for states' expansion of Medicaid, including benefits, open enrollment and cost-sharing.
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