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Costello Bill Would Help Reduce Resident Physician Shortages

May 02, 2017

The Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania (HAP) is praising the introduction of federal legislation that will help hospitals deal with critical shortages of resident physicians.

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 2267), sponsored by Congressmen Ryan Costello (PA-6) and Joseph Crowley (NY-14), would increase the number of Medicare direct graduate medical education (DGME) and indirect medical education (IME) slots by a total of 15,000 nationwide, over five years, from 2019 to 2023.

In order to practice medicine in the United States, graduates of allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical schools must complete a residency training program. The number of medical school graduates is increasing, but the number of residency training positions has not kept pace, because the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped the number of residency slots the federal government would fund.

“As hospitals across the commonwealth work to meet their patients’ rapidly-changing needs, many facilities are experiencing physician shortages,” said Andy Carter, President and CEO of HAP. “These vital needs are especially dire in rural areas, where recruiting can be more difficult.”

The legislation will provide one-third of new residency slots to teaching hospitals currently training over their cap; half of the remaining slots would help address shortages in specialty programs. When considering expansions of caps, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) would be required to prioritize teaching facility locations, the severity of the shortages, affiliation with Veterans Affairs medical centers, training emphasis, and use of electronic medical records.

Pennsylvania’s physician leaders and advocates are applauding this bipartisan effort.

“In Northeastern Pennsylvania, we face serious shortages in many fields, especially in primary care and medical sub-specialties” said Dr. Michael Scalzone, Executive Vice President Medical Affairs for the Guthrie Clinic. “I am very pleased to see legislation introduced that addresses these needs.”

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017 awaits consideration by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the Energy and Commerce Committee. HAP will closely monitor the legislation and encourage support from the Pennsylvania delegation as it moves through Congress.

ABOUT HAP:  HAP is a statewide membership services organization that advocates for nearly 240 Pennsylvania acute and specialty care, primary care, subacute care, long-term care, home health, and hospice providers, as well as the patients and communities they serve. Additional information about HAP is available online at www.haponline.org.

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