The Alliance of Specialty Medicine submitted comments to the Senate Finance Committee in response to the committee’s bipartisan draft proposal to address healthcare workforce shortages through updates to the Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) program and by increasing the number of Medicare-supported residency positions in teaching hospitals.  This proposal was recently released to stakeholders for comment, and in its response, the Alliance made the following points.  

  1. The United States is projected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians by 2034, including 77,100 specialty and 48,000 primary care physicians. ​ This shortage will be particularly acute for neurosurgeons, urologists, rheumatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, gastroenterologists, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, dermatologic surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, osteopathic surgeons, and general surgeons. ​ Congress must take steps now to ensure a fully trained specialty physician workforce for the future. ​
  2. The Alliance supports the bipartisan Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (S. 1302), which aims to increase Medicare-supported GME residency slots by 14,000 over the next seven years. ​ This legislation also prioritizes distributing the new slots to states with new medical schools and directs the Government Accountability Office to study strategies to increase the diversity of the health professional workforce. ​
  3. In order to improve the recruitment of physicians to work in rural or underserved communities, the Alliance suggests providing incentives for both primary and specialty medicine residents to train in these areas. ​ However, certain specialties, such as neurosurgery, may be unable to practice in rural or underserved areas due to the lack of resources. ​ Therefore, policies incentivizing physicians to serve these locations should be measured and flexible. ​
  4. The Alliance believes a new Medicare GME Policy Council is redundant and unnecessary. ​ However, if Congress decides to establish such a council, it should include representatives of practicing medical specialists and specialty physician organizations. ​ Additionally, there should be a mechanism for public comment and submission of relevant data to fully understand workforce projections. ​
  5. The existing Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME) should be enhanced by ensuring consistent funding for COGME’s activities, requiring more regular reporting, ensuring balanced representation of specialty and primary care physicians, and empowering the establishment of subcommittees to address specific areas of workforce development and GME.

The entire Alliance response to the proposal can be accessed by clicking on the link below.

Alliance Response to Senate Finance Committee GME Proposal 6.24.24