NEW JERSEY – U.S. Representatives Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) Friday requested that measures to increase graduate medical education slots for hospitals be included in the forthcoming coronavirus economic relief package, as New Jersey continues to rank as the second largest outbreak in the nation by total number of COVID-19 cases. Increasing graduate medical education slots would provide a potential solution to health care workforce issues and alleviate the staffing burden that has plagued New Jersey’s hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, there is an arbitrary cap on hospital graduate medical education slots. Because of this outdated calculation, some New Jersey medical programs lack the adequate slots to train as many physicians as possible here, and New Jersey keeps losing highly-trained medical students to other states.
“This arbitrary cap has made it difficult for a handful of hospitals across the country to train new physicians and grow their health care workforce,” Gottheimer and Pascrell, Jr. wrote in a letter this week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. “Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our hospitals need every available resource to ensure workforce needs are met.”
“The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has reported that the pandemic has not yet peaked in New Jersey and is expected to worsen in the coming weeks,” Gottheimer and Pascrell said.
The Representatives also wrote, “As you formulate the next COVID-19 legislative package, we urge you to consider updates to the arbitrary caps placed on the GME program.”
“North Jersey’s brave front-line medical workers are fighting incredibly hard to get our community through this outbreak and to keep our residents safe and protected. It is because of their vital work that we will make it through this crisis. Increasing our hospitals’ graduate medical slots will not only make sure they have what they need now, but that our hospitals are prepared for the next health crisis too,” Gottheimer said.
Gottheimer and Pascrell, along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (NJ) and Cory Booker (NJ), announced legislation earlier this Congress to fight New Jersey’s doctor shortage by increasing graduate medical education slots for hospitals. This bill corrects an arbitrary and outdated cap on hospital graduate medical education slots, and will provide qualifying hospitals with the opportunity to finally adjust their residency caps to better reflect their workforce needs.