To help alleviate a growing doctor shortage here in the U.S., a bipartisan group of senators today introduced legislation to make it easier for more hospitals to start full-time residency programs needed to train new physicians.
The legislation filed by U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) would fix a glitch in Medicare’s Graduate Medical Education rule that prevents hospitals that have previously accepted part-time medical residents from establishing their own full-time, Medicare-supported residency programs.
The rule has led some hospitals to refuse part-time residents altogether out of concern that accepting them would prevent that hospital from establishing its own full-time program in the future.
“The U.S. needs more doctors,” Nelson said. “This bill makes it easier for hospitals to offer full-time residency programs to train the next generation of physicians needed to meet our country’s growing demand.”
“We need to help our hospitals in Wisconsin provide better residency opportunities to train our future physicians well,” Johnson said. “These men and women will be the next generation of doctors – many of whom will hopefully remain in Wisconsin to serve our families and communities.”
The United States will have a shortage of 34,600 to 88,000 physicians by 2025, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, and up to 104,900 physicians by 2030.
If approved, the lawmakers’ bill would allow at least 11 hospitals in the U.S. to begin taking steps to open new medical residency programs, including one in Florida: Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland.
The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
Here’s a link to the text of the bill.