by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | April 08, 2021
U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL), John Katko (NY-24), Tom Suozzi (NY-03) and Rodney Davis (IL-13) have reintroduced the Resident Physician Shortage Act of 2021, which calls for the addition of 2,000 residency positions each year.
The aim is to create 14,000 new positions between 2023 and 2029. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the urgent need for qualified doctors in Alabama and across our Nation. That is why I am reintroducing the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act to increase the number of Medicare-supported residency positions to meet our growing demand for quality healthcare,” said Rep. Terri Sewell.
The U.S. is expected to face a deficit of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. An artificial cap on the number of residents funded by Medicare, the primary payment source for residents, has limited the number of training programs and trainees.
Meanwhile, demand for physicians continues to rise as the American population grows older, with the pandemic furthering this need.
“A portion of these positions would be targeted to rural areas, health professional shortage areas, states with new medical schools or branch campuses, and hospitals already training over their caps,” said the American College of Radiology in a statement.
The organization joined others, including AAMC, last month in writing a letter of support for the Act, saying that despite American medical schools, teaching hospitals and physician partners “doing their part” to invest in and provide training, more help is necessary. “Even with these efforts, however, shortages and access challenges will persist unless we expand the physician workforce,” they wrote.
The bill has been proposed numerous times since 2013, but failed to be passed into law. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, enacted in December, has helped by creating 1,000 new Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) positions. The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 is expected to take this increase even further in tackling the shortage.
A Senate counterpart was introduced last month by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), reports AAMC.