AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, issued the following statement on the inclusion of support for expanded Medicare graduate medical education (GME) positions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021:
“The AAMC applauds House and Senate leaders for their bipartisan collaboration to ensure patients will have more physicians in their communities. The provision to increase federal support for residency training will end a nearly 25-year freeze by lifting the arbitrary cap on Medicare funding for graduate medical education (GME) and adding 1,000 new Medicare-supported GME positions at both rural and urban teaching hospitals. It will help to ensure that more physicians are able to care for patients and improve the health of communities across the nation.
The United States faces a projected physician shortage of up to 139,000 doctors by 2033, and the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these shortages as health care workers continue to respond to this national emergency. We thank members of Congress for recognizing the need to act now.
The new residency positions supported by this legislation are a necessary and critical first step in training enough physicians to care for our growing and aging population. Through this increase in federal support for physician training, Congress also has taken steps to prioritize training programs in rural areas, hospitals that are training residents over their caps, states with new medical schools, and facilities that provide care for underserved communities in the distribution of these new residency positions. While the nation’s teaching hospitals will continue to invest their own resources to train physicians over their caps, these new slots will alleviate some of the pressure they have been facing and will allow them to increase training.
The AAMC is also pleased that the legislation addresses issues with underutilized Rural Training Track programs by increasing collaboration between rural and urban teaching hospitals and allowing residents to gain valuable experience providing care in underserved rural communities. In addition, the AAMC appreciates Congress’ attention to the need to adjust the artificially low Medicare caps that limit residency training at some smaller teaching hospitals. The adjustment in the legislation will allow these hospitals to expand their training programs to help bolster the nation’s physician workforce.
The AAMC appreciates the commitment that Congress is showing to physician training and the essential role it plays in improving the health of communities nationwide. We would especially like to thank the numerous bipartisan members of Congress who have led the charge on efforts to increase federal support for physician training, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.), House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-Texas), Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.), Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Rep. Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio), Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).”