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HANYS-Supported Legislation to Increase Medicare-Funded Residency Slots Introduced

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This week, legislation was introduced in both houses of Congress that would increase the number of Medicare-supported residency slots available to teaching hospitals.

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2013 was introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Harry Reid (D-NV), and by Representatives Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Michael Grimm (D-NY), in their respective houses.  HANYS appreciates the opportunity to have worked with the sponsors of this legislation and commends them for their leadership in working to address the growing physician shortage.  Support for these bills in Congress is especially important as deficit reduction deliberations in Washington, D.C., often include threats to Graduate Medical Education.

The Act would augment the number of Medicare-supported residency positions by 3,000 per year, from 2015 to 2019, for a total of 15,000 new slots.  In many urban, rural, and suburban New York communities, the need for additional physicians—both primary care and specialty—is already acute. The shortage is having a significant effect on patient access to services.  For example, a recent HANYS survey found that 75% of hospitals outside New York City indicated that as a result of the physician shortage, there are times when their emergency departments are not covered for certain specialties, forcing patients to be transferred elsewhere.  Thirty-two percent indicated that they have had to reduce and/or eliminate services at their hospitals over the past two years for the same reason.

A meaningful increase in the number of slots eligible for both Medicare Direct Graduate Medical Education and Indirect Medical Education support is essential to addressing the current shortage of physicians that is projected to become more severe as coverage expands under the Affordable Care Act.

HANYS appreciates the leadership of Senator Schumer and Representatives Crowley and Grimm on this critical issue and urges the entire New York State Congressional Delegation to co-sponsor these important bills.  Contact: Susan Van Meter

Published March 15, 2013