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Washington Highlights

AAMC Praises Bill to Strengthen Health Care Workforce

September 19, 2014— AAMC President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, M.D. sent a Sept. 16 letter thanking Reps. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-Calif.) and Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas) for introducing legislation authorizing a series of programs to strengthen the health care workforce.

The Building a Health Care Workforce for the Future Act (H.R. 5458) addresses the growing need for primary and specialty care providers in underserved areas and includes a number of provisions designed to address the top factors that graduating medical students consistently cite as affecting their specialty choice.

In particular, the legislation:

  • Establishes under Title VII a program to increase longitudinal mentorship opportunities for entering medical students who express an interest in primary care, as well as a program to identify effective role models in primary care through a nationwide network of primary care mentors and resources.

  • Authorizes grants to health professions programs to promote educational innovations in priority areas, such as chronic disease management and integrating primary care, public and population health, and health promotion.

  • Commissions a study by the Institute of Medicine to examine less burdensome alternatives to documentation requirements under Medicare for evaluation and management services.

  • Creates a scholarship program to complement the National Health Service Corps by offering federal matching funds to states that invest in health professional scholarship programs in which scholarship recipients must complete a service requirement in designated shortage areas. The bill would require that at least half of funding for the program support scholarships for providers pursuing primary care careers, but also would allow states the flexibility to use the other half of funding to address provider shortages in other specialties.

“By providing opportunities for states to tailor their programs to areas of greatest need, this bill will improve access to care for individuals in health professional shortage areas, medically underserved areas, and other underserved communities,” Dr. Kirch said in his letter.

In the letter, Dr. Kirch also noted “the nation will face a shortage of approximately 130,600 physicians, split evenly between both primary and specialty care, unless Congress lifts the cap on federal support for residency training. Your bill, in concert with legislation to increase the residency cap and a robust investment in Title VII, will help prepare the workforce to respond to the increased demand for health care services.”

In a press release, Rep. Ruiz said, “As an emergency medicine physician... I have seen many people in the Coachella Valley struggle to get care. My bill aims to address our medical, dental, and mental health provider shortages by attracting new students to health care professions, improving and expanding professional school programs... It is critical we continue to take serious steps as a community to address our healthcare provider shortage to ensure access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

H.R. 5458 is the companion bill to S. 1152 introduced on June 13, 2013 by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) [see Washington Highlights, June 14, 2013].


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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