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To Add Doctors, Lift Cap On Training Slots

Tampa Tribune

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Tampa, March 3, 2007 | comments
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is raising the prospect of physician shortages to the attention of Congress. Castor, along with Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, has introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2007, which would expand the number of Medicare-funded training positions in states facing a shortage of doctors. Sen. Bill Nelson and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have introduced a companion measure in the Senate.
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U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is raising the prospect of physician shortages to the attention of Congress.

Castor, along with Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, has introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2007, which would expand the number of Medicare-funded training positions in states facing a shortage of doctors. Sen. Bill Nelson and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have introduced a companion measure in the Senate.

Under the legislation, Florida would receive 347 new residency positions, more than any other state.

Since 1997, Medicare has capped the number of residents for which teaching hospitals can be reimbursed - limits that make little sense given the physician shortages this state faces in so many specialties and sub-specialties. Having more neurosurgeons, for example, would create a greater pool of doctors to be "on call" for hospital emergency rooms, where patients can wait hours for a specialist to arrive.

Because doctors tend to remain in the region where they complete their medical training, it would help Florida communities if teaching hospitals such as Tampa General could increase the number of training slots.

Under Castor's bill, 24 states - including Florida - would receive the Medicare reimbursement to pay for more residents. As the congresswoman says, more resident physicians will mean more health care for patients in west central Florida.

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