Medical Groups Worried About Graduate Education Funding

H.R. 6352, a bill introduced in Congress on Aug. 6, would increase the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education slots by 15,000 within five years.

A bill introduced in Congress on Aug. 6 aims to provide badly needed federal funding for graduate medical education (GME), according to some health organizations including the American Medical Association. H.R. 6352 is named the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction and Graduate Medical Education Accountability and Transparency Act, and its goal is to ward off a predicted significant shortage of physicians in the United States.

The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts the United States will face a shortage of 90,000 physicians by 2020, a number that will grow to more than 130,000 by 2025. The bill, introduced by Reps. Aaron Schock, R-Il., and Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., recently won praise from AAMC President and CEO Dr. Darrell G. Kirch. "The new residency positions created by this legislation, along with the thoughtful approach to achieving transparency and accountability for graduate medical education, represent the beginning of a comprehensive strategy to make sure Americans have access to the care they need," he said.

The debate over GME funding has heated up during Congress’ battles over sequestration, the so-called "fiscal cliff" that looms in January 2013 because of an earlier panel's failure to craft a deficit reduction package. Amednews' Carolyn Krupa reports GME funding also would be significantly cut by President Obama's proposed FY2013 budget. Citing a recent Health Affairs report as the source, she reports federal, state, and private funds pay for GME, with about $9.5 billion in annual Medicare funding and $2 billion in Medicaid funding going to it; Medicare funding for GME has been capped since 1997, she reported Aug. 27.

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