Press Release

U.S. Reps. Castor, Heck file bipartisan legislation to address looming doctor shortage

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Washington, March 5, 2015 | comments
In response to America’s looming doctor shortage, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL14) and Joe Heck (R-NV3) have filed the bipartisan Creating Access to Residency Education (CARE) Act to boost the number of resident physicians through creative partnerships with health providers. The CARE Act also provides a timely response to two recent studies that highlight the troubling shortage of doctors in training.
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In response to America’s looming doctor shortage, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-FL14) and Joe Heck (R-NV3) have filed the bipartisan Creating Access to Residency Education (CARE) Act to boost the number of resident physicians through creative partnerships with health providers. The CARE Act also provides a timely response to two recent studies that highlight the troubling shortage of doctors in training.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has endorsed the bill and medical students are visiting Washington, D.C. to urge lawmakers to support the CARE Act. Hi-res photo available of today’s (03/05/2015) visit:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/h4ec05eq3uzr8zi/AMA%20students.jpg?dl=0

The Florida Safety Net Hospital Alliance warned that Florida will be short 7,000 doctors by 2025 if more residency programs are not created to keep up with the demand. And Tuesday, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported that the country faces a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians. 

“While Florida’s medical schools are graduating more doctors, there are not enough doctors training in our hospitals and clinics,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “Doctors most often practice where they train, not where they attend medical school. Florida needs more residency slots, otherwise the state will pay to educate but will not retain the next generation of doctors.”

Teaching hospitals in states like Florida are forced to use their low residency numbers calculated nearly 20 years ago for the Balanced Budget Act. Many of these states have seen a huge population boom since that time and are training doctors to meet their health care demands, but losing them to states with more slots and smaller populations. Florida has nine medical schools.

"Addressing doctor shortages in states like Nevada and Florida is ‎one of our most critical public health challenges," said U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, also a physician. "We know physicians are significantly more likely to stay and practice medicine where they complete their residency program. Therefore, increasing federal grant opportunities so states can expand current residency programs or create new ones will help under-served states train and retain ‎new doctors. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Castor to move this important bill forward to increase access to healthcare and improve public health." 

AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D. said:  “The American Medical Association has long-advocated for increasing the number of medical residency slots to train physicians in needed specialties and regions to improve access to health care. We believe that the CARE Act would be a significant step toward ensuring patient access to care through its creative solutions to fund new medical residency positions. We look forward to working with Reps. Castor and Heck to urge support for this important bill that would help address physician shortages in undersupplied specialties and under-served areas.”

The CARE Act aims to create a $25 million CMS grant program that would allow hospitals in states with a low ratio of medical residents to apply for matching funds to support increases in graduate medical (GME) training slots. Instead of calling for  more funding from Medicare to address the shortage of medical training slots, the CARE Act is focused on creating local partnerships and buy-in.

According to a 2013 study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Florida had 19 residents in GME training per 100,000 residents, which was below the national averages of 36.6 residents per 100,000. Plus, the same organization concluded that Florida averages a higher number of physicians who are 60 years and older, indicating that many will retire over the next few years.

“Increasing these training slots also makes economic sense for Florida,” U.S. Rep. Castor said. “Studies show that medical residents tend to practice in the state where they completed their GME training than where they went to medical school.”

By the numbers:

  • The United States will be short an estimated 90,000 doctors by 2025, according to a 2015 study commissioned by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
  • Florida will be short an estimated 7,000 doctors by 2025, according to a 2015 study commissioned by the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and the Safety net Hospital Alliance of Florida.
  • 30 percent of Florida’s physicians are at least 60 years old, according to the American Medical Association.
  • 81 percent of doctors who completed medical school and residency training in Florida remained here. However, two-thirds of the state’s medical school graduates leave for out-of-state-residency programs, according to a 2015 study commissioned by the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and the Safety net Hospital Alliance of Florida.

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