Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) May 1 introduced the “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017” (H.R. 2267), legislation aimed at quelling the looming physician shortage by increasing the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) residency positions.
In a May 1 statement, AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, commended the members’ leadership stating, “This bipartisan legislation contains a modest but very necessary increase in federal support for GME that is part of a multi-pronged approach to relieving the shortage…We need to address these shortages and address them now.”
The legislation would increase the number of Medicare-supported GME training positions by 3,000 per year over 2019-2023, totaling 15,000. The legislation sets forth a distribution methodology for the allocation of the additional slots. One-third of the new slots are available only to teaching hospitals training over their cap. In determining which hospitals will receive slots, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is required to consider the likelihood of a teaching hospital filling the positions, and will allocate the slots in the following manner:
First, to hospitals in states with new medical schools or new branch campuses;
Second, to hospitals affiliated with Veterans Affairs medical centers;
Third, to hospitals that emphasize training in community-based settings or in hospital outpatient departments;
Fourth, to hospitals that are not located in a rural area and operate an approved “rural track” program; and
Fifth, to all other hospitals.
Hospitals receiving additional slots must ensure that at least 50 percent of the additional slots are used for a shortage specialty residency program, that the total number of slots is not reduced prior to the increase, and that the ratio of residents in a shortage specialty program is not decreased prior to the increase. A hospital may not receive more than 75 slots in any fiscal year.
Dr. Kirch also emphasized academic medicine’s commitment to addressing the looming physician shortages saying, “America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are doing their part to combat the physician shortage by investing in physician and health care provider training and leading innovations in new care delivery models that are more efficient and include better use of technologies—like telehealth—that improve patient access to care.”
A Senate companion bill is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks.