Torres Small Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Address Rural Doctor Shortages

March 22, 2019 by Dan McCue

Last week, Representative Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., introduced The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 (H.R. 1763), which she and her bipartisan cosponsors say will take definitive steps toward reducing nationwide physician shortages, with an emphasis in rural areas.

The bill introduced by Torres Small, fellow Democrat Representative Terri Sewell, of Alabama, and Republican Representatives John Katko, of New York, and Rodney Davis, of Illinois on March 14 increases the number of Medicare-supported residency positions by 15,000.

“An expecting mother shouldn’t have to drive for hours and across state lines for every single prenatal appointment,” Torres Small said in announcing the bill. “Veterans shouldn’t have to get on a bus in the middle of the night to get to a doctor’s appointment in Albuquerque the next day. These are the obstacles that our rural communities face when trying to access basic healthcare needs.

“H.R. 1763 will significantly increase training programs for rural physicians and take the first steps towards expanding rural healthcare access and incentivizing medical students to serve our rural communities,” Torres Small said.

For the past two decades, an artificial cap on the number of residents funded by Medicare – which is the primary source of payment for residents – has limited the expansion of training programs and the number of trainees.

If passed, this legislation would support an additional 3,000 positions each year for the next five years, for a total of 15,000 residency positions, with priority going to hospitals or approved medical residency training programs with an integrated rural track.

It also directs the Comptroller General of the United States to conduct a study on strategies for increasing the diversity of healthcare professionals, especially those from rural, lower income, and underrepresented minority communities.

Among those that have already thrown their support behind the legislation is the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, which represents 35 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in 32 states.

In a letter to the bill sponsors, the association called their effort “timely” and lauded them for giving “priority to hospitals in states with new medical schools and emphasize training in community-based settings.

“The bill’s additional GAO requirement to conduct a study on strategies for increasing health professional workforce diversity is critical to encourage greater connections and services between traditionally underserved communities and the emerging physician workforce,” the association said.

It went on to say that because the bill ensures additional residency slots are made available to new medical school graduates to pursue their post-graduate training and become licensed practicing physicians, it will result in expanded access to patient care, particularly in the rural and underserved areas that historically face chronic primary care shortages.”

The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Health

High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship
Supreme Court
High Court Blocks NY Coronavirus Limits on Houses of Worship

WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the... Read More

Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package
Congress
Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More

Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic
Congress
Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic

WASHINGTON — When the 117th Congress convenes in January, COVID-19 precautions will prevent the 435 House members from gathering in the chamber together, so opening day festivities of swearing in members and electing the speaker will look a little different. House leaders have begun discussing how to carry out... Read More

Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing
Economy
Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat said Tuesday that she's engaged in bipartisan discussions on COVID-19 aid and urged quick action even if that means "a short-term package for the next few months." "We need to act," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., the fourth-ranking Democrat in that chamber... Read More

COVID Test Crunch Means Hours-long Waits Before Thanksgiving
Health
COVID Test Crunch Means Hours-long Waits Before Thanksgiving

You can bring wine to Thanksgiving, bring sweet potatoes, bring congealed salad if you must. But you can't bring COVID-19, and that's causing hours-long lines at U.S. testing centers, triggering desperation among people yet to be cleared for the holiday meal. They're waiting outside even as health officials warn... Read More

White House Still Planning Holiday Parties, Despite Warnings
White House
White House Still Planning Holiday Parties, Despite Warnings

WASHINGTON (AP) — All those warnings from public health officials begging Americans to limit gatherings this holiday season amid a surge in coronavirus cases aren't stopping the White House from planning a host of festivities and holiday parties in the midst of a pandemic. Monday's delivery... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top