WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation to help address the nationwide physician shortage. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would update the Graduate Medical Education (GME) slot process following a hospital closure by directing federally-funded medical residency slots to areas where doctors are most needed.
“In rural states like Arkansas, the shortage of primary care physicians and specialty doctors creates a health care delivery challenge. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act is part of the solution to bridge this gap and encourage more medical school graduates to practice in rural areas. I’m pleased to continue advancing proposals to ensure all Americans, no matter where they live, get the care they need,” Boozman said.
“Nevada currently ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to primary care physicians per capita, and this shortage has had a dire impact on Nevadans’ ability to seek health care,” Rosen said. “This bipartisan legislation will help add to the number of medical residency slots available for Nevada hospitals and encourage more doctors to come practice in our state, including in communities which previously have been underserved.”
“The physician shortage continues to be a significant problem across the nation but it’s especially alarming in rural states like Arkansas,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, chancellor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and CEO of UAMS Health. “More than two-thirds of the 75 counties in our state include federally designated Primary Care Health Professional Shortage Areas. Primary care physician shortages are expected to increase substantially as our state’s population continues to age and require more medical care, and as more seek primary care services. We are extremely grateful to Sen. Boozman and Sen. Rosen for their introduction of the Physicians for Underserved Areas Act. Sen. Boozman has been a longtime champion of Graduate Medical Education, working closely with UAMS toward our common goal of ensuring that all Arkansans, no matter where they live, have access to health care. The addition of residency positions where they are needed most will improve the chances for physicians to stay in Arkansas after completing residency because data show that physicians are more likely to practice within 50 miles of their final residency training.”
The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would:
- Revise the GME process to give medical residency programs in areas with physician shortages a greater chance of gaining available residency slots after hospital closures elsewhere in the country;
- Prioritize keeping medical residency slots local and within the same state when hospitals close; and
- Update the requirement for quickly filling GME slots.
This legislation continues Boozman’s commitment to addressing the growing shortage of primary and specialty care physicians in Arkansas. In February, Boozman and Rosen teamed up to introduce the Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act to help ease the financial burden on medical and dental students. Last year, the senator introduced the Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021, legislation to significantly increase Medicare-supported doctor training slots. That followed efforts during the 116th Congress to gradually lift the caps on Medicare-supported doctor training slots.