Vice Chair Crowley Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Address Looming Doctor Shortage

April 30, 2015
Press Release

Bill expands current cap on Medicare-supported training slots for doctors

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, reintroduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 2124) legislation that addresses the looming doctor shortage by expanding the current cap on the number of Medicare-supported training slots for doctors. The legislation will help teaching hospitals meet the growing needs for more physicians, including demands facing the nation’s Veterans Affairs hospitals and medical centers. Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) joined Crowley in introducing the bill.

“Completing a residency in a chosen specialty is required to become a licensed doctor, yet each year, more and more qualified medical school graduates find that there are no residency positions available for them. This bottleneck means that no matter how many qualified, talented would-be doctors graduate medical school, many will legally be unable to complete their training and go on to care for patients,” said Rep. Crowley. “In order to genuinely address the coming physician shortage, we need an increased investment in physician training programs, and we need it now.”

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. Medical school enrollment is growing, yet the number of residency positions is still subject to an outdated cap, meaning that these medical school graduates will have no place to finish their required training. 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 first introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act in 2009 and again in subsequent Congresses. The Crowley-Boustany legislation 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.

“This extremely important bill provides a simple remedy to help alleviate America’s looming physician shortage: allow the nation’s teaching hospitals to train 15,000 more medical residents in the coming years,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske. “I applaud Congressman Crowley for his leadership and his staunch support of the hospital community.”

Dennis Whalen, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) commended Congressman Crowley for his leadership in pressing Congress to protect and strengthen Graduate Medical Education, "This bipartisan, bicameral legislation is critical to supporting our world-class teaching hospitals and academic medical centers whose core mission is excellence in patient care while training tomorrow’s physicians. More residency slots are needed nationwide to support the increased need for physician services."

Companion legislation (S. 1148) was introduced today in the U.S. Senate by Bill Nelson (FL), Charles Schumer (NY) and Harry Reid (NV).

The legislation is supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, American Hospital Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, Greater New York Hospital Association, and Healthcare Association of New York State, among other leading national organizations.