The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced on Jan. 9 that the Section 126, Round 3, application is open and will be available until March 31. The CMS will award up to 200 of the 1,000 slots made available under Section 126 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PL 116-260) for this round of applications to four categories of qualifying hospitals: rural hospitals or hospitals treated as rural, hospitals over the cap, hospitals in states with new medical schools or branch campuses, and hospitals that serve Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). Awards from this application cycle will be effective July 1, 2025. Resources are available on the CMS DGME website (under the Section 126 resources tab) to assist hospitals with the application process.
The CMS prioritizes the distribution of awards to hospitals based on HPSA scores and makes awards for both direct graduate medical education (DGME) and indirect medical education (IME) full-time equivalent (FTE) caps. For prioritization, the CMS will only consider geographic or population HPSA scores from primary care or mental health shortage areas. From the pool of qualified applications, hospitals with the highest HPSA score receive awards first. If slots are still available, the CMS will distribute awards to hospitals with the next highest HPSA score, and so on, until all available slots are distributed. For each application cycle, the CMS publishes a list on the CMS DGME website of HPSA identification numbers and the associated HPSA score. The CMS will only use the published list of HPSA scores for Section 126 applications.