Ahead of Medical Student “Match Day,” Crowley Urges Passage of Bill to Address Looming Doctor Shortage

Mar 17, 2016 Issues: Health Care

Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act Would Fix Outdated Limit on Number of Doctors That Can Be Trained

(Washington, D.C.) – Ahead of what is known as “Match Day,” where medical students across the country learn where they will go for their next stage of training, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, called on Congress to bring up his Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act to alleviate the bottleneck in doctor training that is standing in the way of addressing the looming doctor shortage. The bill has over 114 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

After graduating medical school, future doctors are required to complete a residency in their chosen specialty. Medical school enrollment is growing, yet the number of residency positions is still subject to an outdated cap, meaning that many of these medical school graduates will have no place to finish their required training. In 2015, nearly 1,000 U.S. medical school graduates did not initially match to a position, a number that is likely to increase in coming years.

“Match Day should be a time to celebrate the future of medicine, yet year after year, we see too many graduating medical students left without a residency position simply because there are not enough slots available,” said Rep. Crowley. “The outdated limit on the number of doctors that can be trained each year ties the hands of our medical schools, our teaching hospitals, and, quite frankly, our future. I urge my colleagues to take up this important legislation so we can take steps now to address the looming doctor shortage.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a stunning shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2025, including shortages in both primary and specialty care. Additionally, last year, an investigation by the Department of Veterans affairs concluded that many VA hospitals do not have enough primary care doctors, contributing to long wait times for care.

Crowley and Rep. Charles Boustany, Jr., M.D. (R-LA) reintroduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act in 2015. The bill would increase the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency positions by 15,000 (3,000 slots per year, over five years), bringing the total number of slots available to approximately 102,000. The legislation also places an emphasis on expanding residency slots in primary care and other specialties necessary to meet the needs of a growing civilian and veteran population.

Crowley first introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act in 2009 and again in subsequent Congresses.

The legislation is supported by over two dozen leading national organizations, including the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and Association of American Medical Colleges, as well as numerous physician specialty groups.

Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.