AAMC Statement on Introduction of Senate GME Expansion Legislation

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement on the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 (S. 348), which was introduced in the U.S. Senate and would increase support for Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME):

"Recognizing we must address the growing threat to our nation’s health security posed by a predicted shortage of more than 121,000 primary care and specialty physicians by 2030, the AAMC applauds Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for introducing bipartisan legislation to expand the number of federally supported residency positions. Physicians are a critical element of our health care infrastructure, and this bill would help address the physician shortage by adding an additional 3,000 Medicare-supported residency positions each year for five years.

The increases in this targeted, bipartisan legislation are a critical component of our efforts to ensure that all Americans will have access to the health care they need. These new residency positions are just one part of a multipronged approach to combat the physician shortage. America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals are doing their part by investing in physician and health care provider training and leading innovations in new care delivery models that are more efficient and include better use of technologies — like telehealth — that improve patient access to care. Even with these efforts, however, shortages and access challenges will persist unless we expand the physician workforce.

While this is a serious issue for all of us, it is especially problematic because of our aging population. A person’s need for physician services increases with age, and the U.S. population aged 65 and older is predicted to grow by 50% by 2030. Since its inception, Medicare’s partnership with teaching hospitals has helped offset the cost of training physicians to ensure all patients can access the care they need. Congress must act now to expand the physician workforce — especially as it takes up to 10 years to train a doctor.

We are committed to working with Senators Menendez, Boozman, and Schumer as well as other congressional leaders to increase federal support for residency training and help alleviate the doctor shortage for the benefit of all Americans."

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.