Senators Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Charles Boustany, Jr., M.D. (R-La.) April 30 introduced the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2015” (S.1148, H.R. 2124), AAMC-supported legislation that would increase the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) residency positions.
In a statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., applauded the members’ continued leadership stating, “Our nation faces a real, significant doctor shortage in the next decade, one that poses a threat to patients if it is not addressed now. The legislation introduced today will provide critical additional federal support for residency training that will help to address the shortage.”
The companion bills, similar to versions introduced in the 113th Congress, would increase the number of Medicare-supported GME training positions by 3,000 per year over 2017-2021, totaling 15,000. Although there are slight differences between the bills, both would:
- Require half of all available slots be used to train residents in shortage specialty residency programs;
- Direct the National Health Care Workforce Commission to study the physician workforce;
- Require a Government Accountability Office study on strategies for increasing health professional workforce diversity; and
- Specify the process for distributing positions, including priority for hospitals:
- In states with new medical schools or new branch campuses;
- Affiliated with Veterans Affairs medical centers;
- Emphasizing training in community-based settings or in hospital outpatient departments; or
- Determined as electronic health record (EHR) meaningful users.
Dr. Kirch also emphasized academic medicine’s commitment to addressing workforce challenges saying, “Medical schools have done their part to address the shortage by increasing enrollment by 30 percent, and every one of those new doctors will need to complete a residency before they can begin caring for patients in their communities.”