Graduate Medical Education
The SVS continues to support increasing graduate medical education (GME) funding to help expand medical residency slots to ensure a robust pipeline of physicians. These efforts are designed to maintain and enhance patient access to care contribute to establishing a healthier future for communities across the country.
The SVS is working to spotlight the nation’s doctor shortage and the need to address it through increased funding for Medicare-supported GME by using the following key messages, social media posts, and shareable graphics. Together, our collective voice will remind policymakers about the importance of increasing federal GME funding to improve the health of all.
- According to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States is facing a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034. An aging physician population, rising rates of burnout, and early retirement continue to exacerbate the impact on the health of patients and communities. The two-year COVID-19 pandemic has only further impacted the country’s physician workforce and projected shortage.
- Expanding federal support for graduate medical education (GME) will help address the physician shortage by increasing the number of Medicare-supported medical residency slots so more doctors will be trained. In turn, more practicing physicians will help alleviate the doctor shortage, ensure better patient access to care, address health equity, improve diversity among physicians, and help prepare the nation for the next public health crisis.
- Increasing the number of medical residency positions is vital to the health of communities, especially in underserved rural and urban areas where a shortage of health care professionals continues to limit access to care and exacerbate health inequities.
- We urge Senate Democrats and all members of Congress to increase the number of Medicare-supported GME positions. The House-passed Build Back Better Act included 4,000 new Medicare-supported slots. To strengthen our health care workforce and help improve access to care for patients and communities, it is critical that the Senate include this proposal in the legislative package.
Recent Victories/Legislative Updates
This bill increases the number of residency positions eligible for graduate medical education payments under Medicare for qualifying hospitals, including hospitals in rural areas and health professional shortage areas.
Both the House and Senate Labor-HHS reports contained language that clarifies congressional intent for the distribution of the 1,000 new, Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) slots provided in Section 126 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Senate explanatory statement reiterated that Congress specified four categories of eligible hospitals for distribution of the slots: hospitals training residents over their cap, hospitals in states with new medical schools, hospitals in rural areas, and hospitals serving Health Professional Shortage Areas. It notes that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has created a “super prioritization” standard through rulemaking, which is heavily reliant on the location of the teaching hospital. The language stressed that this “super prioritization” is “not found in the statute and is not consistent with Congressional intent.” Further, the Senate language directed the CMS to “eliminate or partially modify the ‘super prioritization’ in fiscal year 2023 and beyond.” Both reports urge the CMS to “prioritize applications from any hospitals seeking to establish or expand residency training in certain needed specialties, such as primary care, geriatrics, and general surgery, as had been the priority with previous GME slot distribution programs.”
The Workforce Mobility Act
The Workforce Mobility Act of 2023, introduced by Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA-50), Mike Gallagher (R-WI-8), Anna Eshoo (D-CA-16) and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Todd Young (R-IN), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Kevin Cramer (D-ND) would prohibit the use of noncompete agreements under federal law, with limited exceptions.
The Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act
The Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act, reintroduced in the 118th Congress by Reps. Brian Babin (R-TX-36) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6) and Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Boozman (R-AR), would allow borrowers to qualify for interest-free deferment of their student loans while serving in a medical or dental internship or residency program.
The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act
The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023, introduced by Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL-7) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) would help alleviate the projected national physician workforce shortages in both primary care and non-primary care, including surgical specialties such as vascular surgery, by gradually expanding the number of Medicare-supported medical residency positions by 14,000 over seven years.