House Bill Would Increase Residency Positions, Ease Doctor Shortage
Washington, D.C., March 14, 2013—A House bill reintroduced today by Reps. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) would increase the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) residency positions by 15,000 over five years and begin to alleviate the doctor shortage facing the nation, according to the AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges). In addition to increasing the number of residency positions, the House legislation, “Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act,” also would establish Medicare GME accountability and transparency measures.
“On the eve of Match Day—when fourth-year medical students learn where they will begin their residency training required to care for patients—a number of our member medical schools are reporting highly qualified U.S. seniors not matching to residency programs,” said Darrell G. Kirch, M.D., AAMC president and CEO. “We have been expressing concern for some time about the inadequate number of doctor training positions because of federal caps imposed in 1997. This troubling development makes the GME increases proposed in this bill even more urgent.”
Congress capped the number of federally supported residency training positions 15 years ago as part of the Balanced Budget Act. With AAMC data projecting a shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2020—from primary care physicians to surgeons to specialists for children—the nation’s medical schools are on track to increase their enrollments by 30 percent. However, without an increase in the number of federally supported residency positions, these new physicians may not be able to obtain the additional training they need to practice medicine. Funding cuts to Medicare triggered by the sequester and proposed in deficit reduction plans will exacerbate the problem.
“Because it takes seven to 10 years to train a doctor, Congress must act now to increase Medicare’s support for graduate medical education. We commend the leadership and long-term vision these lawmakers have shown in reintroducing this measure,” Kirch said. “Medical schools and teaching hospitals see these proposals as the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to improve the health care of all.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and nearly 90 academic and scientific societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC represents 128,000 faculty members, 75,000 medical students, and 110,000 resident physicians. Additional information about the AAMC and U.S. medical schools and teaching hospitals is available at www.aamc.org/newsroom.
Senior Director, Strategic Communications