WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee that oversees national health policy and a longtime leader of the effort to expand graduate medical education (GME), co-lead a bipartisan group of colleagues on the introduction of the Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act.
The legislation would new physician residency positions in psychiatry and psychiatry subspecialties.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the mental health crisis across our nation and the lack of physician providers to address the issue,” Menendez said. “But the fact is – mental health illnesses and a national physician shortage existed well before the pandemic and the time has come to address this issue. If we don’t act now to significantly increase the number of medical school students and physician residents in the training pipeline, we won’t be able to properly care and treat those living with mental health illnesses. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this commonsense piece of legislation”
Specifically, the Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act would add 400 new physician residency positions per year funded by Medicare to teaching hospitals for training new physicians in psychiatry and psychiatry subspecialties.
Menendez is the Senate lead of the bipartisan The Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 which would lift the arbitrary cap on the number of Medicare-funded GME positions and increase these positions nationwide by an additional 14,000 over seven years. The Senator successfully secured 1,000 new GME slots in the FY21 spending deal; the first expansion of this critical physician training program in decades.
Each year, New Jersey has approximately 3,100 physician residents in training at 43 hospitals. At the same time, NJHA estimates that New Jersey has approximately 32 medical students and resident physicians in training per 100,000 residents compared to 81 and 62 in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, respectively.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the nation’s worsening physician shortage and the critical importance of addressing our nation’s mental health crisis,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “The Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act tackles the problems head-on by adding 400 Medicare-funded graduate medical education slots to train much-needed additional psychiatrists. The teaching hospital community thanks Senator Menendez for his leadership on this vital issue.
Sen. Menendez also authored and successfully fought to include a provision in the American Rescue Plan before it passed the Senate that permanently restores the so-called imputed rural floor policy that was eliminated by the Trump Administration, costing New Jersey hospitals millions of dollars annually. As a result, hospitals in New Jersey have been left at a competitive disadvantage due to depressed Medicare wage payments.