WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) Wednesday called on the Biden Administration to include an expansion in the number of Medicare graduate medical education (GME) positions in the President’s 2024 Federal Fiscal Year budget request.
In a letter to the Director Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Shalanda Young, the senators urged the OMB to commit to investing in the physician workforce.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for policies to support physicians and other health care workers, including the urgent need to bolster physician training,” wrote the senators to Director Young. “[W]e urge you to commit to investing in the physician workforce today to ensure Americans are able to access physician care in the future.”
The U.S. is expected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, with projected shortages in both primary care and specialty physicians, as a large portion of the physician workforce is nearing retirement age.
The bipartisan Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 sponsored by Sens. Menendez, Boozman and Schumer would gradually raise the number of Medicare GME positions by 2,000 per year for seven years, for a total of 14,000 new positions. This bill has garnered support from over 200 House members and more than a third of senators from both sides of the aisle.
“We must increase Federal support for GME and physician training now to meet the needs of our diverse and growing nation, ensure health care access and delivery, improve workforce diversity and health equity, and prepare for the next public health crisis,” the senators said. “We urge you to include Medicare GME expansion in the FY 2024 budget. Doing so would further demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to health care delivery and equity, and its support for health care workers.”
Sen. Menendez, who successfully secured 1,000 new GME slots in the FY21 spending deal, last week co-lead a bipartisan group of colleagues on the introduction of the Training Psychiatrists for the Future Act to add 400 new physician residency positions per year funded by Medicare to teaching hospitals for training new physicians in psychiatry and psychiatry subspecialties.