Arizona Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, has co-sponsored a bill known as the “Rural Physician Workforce Production Act” (S. 1893) that aims to put more healthcare providers into rural parts of the U.S. My first thought was “sounds great but how will they do that? And what are the tradeoffs?”
The bill would send more Medicare $ to rural hospitals so they can train their own residents
First, this is from Congress’ website:
Introduced in Senate (05/27/2021)
Rural Physician Workforce Production Act of 2021
This bill allows certain hospitals to receive additional payment under Medicare for full-time equivalent residents who receive training in rural areas.
Specifically, hospitals, critical access hospitals, sole community hospitals, and rural emergency hospitals may elect to receive payment for time spent by a resident in a rural training location if the resident trains for at least eight weeks in the location and the hospital pays the salary and benefits of the resident during this time. Additionally, hospitals may receive payment for all time spent by residents in a residency program in which 50% of all training is in rural locations, regardless of where the training occurs or specialty.
Payments are based on the difference between the total amount of eligible payments (as determined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) and the amount of graduate medical education payments received (if applicable).U.S. Congress website
So it looks like there will be more money for rural hospitals to develop their own residency programs. The hope is that if physicians are able to complete their residency in rural areas they will be more likely to stay in those rural areas after completion.
The bill has been endorsed by the following orgs:
- American Academy of Family Physicians: “The bill would provide invaluable new federal support for rural residency training, which will help alleviate physician shortages in rural communities.”
- American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM): “This bipartisan, budget-neutral bill tackles the geographic maldistribution of physicians across the U.S. by strengthening Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME).”
- National Rural Health Association (NRHA): “We thank you for sponsoring this important legislation and being stalwart champions for rural America.”
Bill sponsors in the senate
The bill has a good mix of Democrat and Republican sponsors in the senate, which would seem to increase its likelihood of eventually passing.
US – Senator Jon Tester (D) – Primary sponsor
US – Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D)
US – Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
US – Senator Jacky Rosen (D)
US – Senator John Barrasso (R)
US – Senator John Boozman (R)
US – Senator Kevin Cramer (R)
US – Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D)
US – Senator Lisa Murkowski (R)
US – Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R)
US – Senator Steve Daines (R)
US – Senator Susan M. Collins (R)
See TrackBill for updates.
Photo credit: Province of British Columbia