The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) has endorsed legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA) to address the shortage of physicians and to ensure greater accountability among hospitals overseeing the nation’s medical residency training programs.
“The U.S. is already facing the reality of having a significant shortfall in trained doctors and medical professionals, and this shortage will only continue to grow if we don’t begin to address the problem now. It’s estimated by 2015, the country will have over 62,000 fewer doctors than needed,” said Congressman Aaron Schock.
The “Resident Physician Shortage Reduction and Graduate Medical Education Accountability Act” would create 15,000 new graduate medical education (GME) slots – 3,000 per year for five years. While the bill creates two methods to apply for the slots, each hospital would be restricted to a maximum of 75 additional slots. Hospital eligibility would be determined annually by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
According to AACOM President and CEO Stephen Shannon, DO, MPH, the shortage of physicians in our health care system has reached a crisis situation. He said the legislation addresses many significant problems in the current GME system in a cost-effective and responsible manner.
The bill would require a payment adjustment of two (2) percent to hospitals if the hospital fails to meet specific patient care quality measures to be developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with accrediting bodies, by January 1, 2015. In addition, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on physician specialties with shortages; strategies to enhance diversity of the health professional workforce; and provide annual reports describing how the increased funding has been used.
“Creating more GME slots – and mandating accountability for the increased funding – represents a balanced approach to addressing a serious crisis in health care that has a direct impact on patients’ access to doctors. We commend Representatives Schock and Schwartz for their leadership on this important legislation, and we urge Congress to move quickly to consider this legislation,” said Dr. Shannon.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine promotes excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and fosters innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public.