Torres Small Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Address Rural Doctor Shortages
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.
In The News
A majority of American voters believe the U.S. Supreme Court was right in 1973 when it ruled in Roe v. Wade that women have a constitutionally-protected right to have an abortion, and most also believe the current generation of justices will uphold that ruling. Those are... Read More
Representatives Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., have introduced bipartisan legislation to address chronic flooding that places Veterans Affairs medical facilities at risk on a regular basis. The bill the representatives filed Tuesday, called the VA Community Infrastructure Act, would create a new Department of... Read More
Delivering remarks on surprise medical billing, which is a concern that has drawn bipartisan interest, President Donald Trump waded into another high-profile health issue: making sure insurance protects people who have preexisting health conditions. “We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions, very importantly,” Trump said... Read More
This week, U.S. Representatives Brad Schneider, D-Ill., and Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., announced the introduction of new bipartisan legislation to improve primary care options for individuals with high-deductible health insurance plans. H.R. 2774, the Primary Care Patient Protection Act of 2019, would create a primary care benefit... Read More
DALLAS — With opioid-related deaths on the rise each year in the U.S., Texas has become the first state to offer a life-saving overdose drug online, freeing users of the stigma associated with drug use. Last week, Texas began offering Naloxone, an opioid antagonist, for purchase... Read More
The Blue Dog Coalition has endorsed H.R. 2483, also known as the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, which aims to pressure the Chinese government to honor its commitment to make all forms of fentanyl illegal and provide the United States with more tools and resources to go after... Read More