Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Reps. Reid Ribble (R-Wis.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.) March 15 introduced the Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act of 2016 (S.2671, H.R. 4732).
AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch M.D., applauded the legislation stating, “The nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals have long championed the principles included in this legislation that would alleviate barriers to establishing physician training programs in community hospitals.” However, Dr. Kirch cautioned, “While not a long-term solution to address the shortage of up to 90,000 physicians that the country will face by 2025, this legislation is an important step forward.”
The legislation would allow hospitals that have inadvertently, and often unknowingly, established medical resident training programs with artificially low resident caps and/or per-resident-amounts (PRA), to build residency training programs and receive the appropriate Medicare-support.
Under current Medicare rules, a non-teaching (community) hospital that accepts resident rotators risks receiving substantially lower funding from the Medicare program should it ever decide to become a teaching hospital. Specifically, the community hospital could potentially establish a very low permanent resident cap and/or PRA.
Finally, Dr. Kirch stressed the need to address physician workforce challenges saying, “to ensure that we have enough physicians to care for our growing, aging population, Congress also must increase federal support for residency training at existing teaching hospitals. Unless lawmakers act without delay, patients may not have access to the care they need in the future.”