Congressional leaders propose permanent expansion of GME in health centers

Two Congressional leaders on Wendesday introduced a bill that would expand a program that helps train primary-care and dental residents in high-need areas.

Under the proposal, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, which supports the training of primary care doctors in outpatient settings in communities, would be made permanent and receive $500 million per year between 2024 and 2033 to fund about 1,600 new resident training slots at 100 programs across the country.

Currently the program receives about $126 million per year, with funding expiring in 2023.

The proposal from Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the chair of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate health committee, would permanently fund the program, providing more certainty to teaching health centers and partially addressing the physician shortage.

“Primary care physicians are the keystone of our nation’s healthcare system and are all too often the only providers in rural and high-need communities,” Pallone said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are increasingly facing a shortage of these vital frontline providers across the country, which will only continue to grow unless Congress acts.”

The U.S. could see a shortage of between 21,400 and 55,200 primary care physicians by 2033, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

AAMC has also urged Congress to approve an additional 14,000 resident training slots paid for by Medicare through a separate program.

The number of slots paid for by Medicare was frozen since 1996 until December when Congress approved an additional 1,000 slots.


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