Reintroduction of the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019
March 13, 2019
On February 5, 2019, Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Senator John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019. This bill is similar to the ones introduced in 2013 and 2017. Both previous bills were unsuccessful, however, with the growing need for doctors to service the aging population, this bipartisan bill was reintroduced to increase the number of Medicare residency slots capped by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.
Distribution Methodology For Additional Slots
The bill reintroduced by the Senators would increase the number of Medicare-funded residency slots nationally by 3,000 each fiscal year from 2021 through 2025. The additional slots will be distributed under the following guidelines:
- A hospital may not receive more than 75 slots in any fiscal year unless the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines there are remaining slots for distribution.
- In determining which hospital would receive slots, the HHS Secretary would have to consider the likelihood of a hospital filling the positions and would be required to prioritize hospitals in the following order:
- Hospitals in states with new medical schools;
- Hospitals already training residents in excess of their cap;
- Hospitals in training partnerships with Veterans Affairs medical centers;
- Hospitals that emphasize training in community-based settings or hospital outpatient departments;
- Non-rural hospitals that operate a training program in a rural area or a program with an integrated rural track;
- All other hospitals.
Requirements for Additional Slots
Hospitals receiving additional slots will be required to meet specific conditions. At least 50 percent of the additional slots would have to be directed to a shortage specialty residency program, defined as
Medicare Reimbursement for Additional Slots
The additional slots will be reimbursed at the hospital’s otherwise applicable per resident amounts for DGME purposes and according to the usual adjustment factor for IME reimbursement purposes.
Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report
The proposed legislation would require the GAO to study and analyze strategies for increasing the number of health professionals from rural, lower income, and underrepresented minority communities in the workforce. The Comptroller General would be required to submit a report to Congress with recommendations for legislation and administrative action within two years of the date of enactment.
About the Author: