Vice Chair Crowley’s Bipartisan Bill to Address Looming Doctor Shortage Surpasses 100 Co-Sponsors

Jan 12, 2016 Issues: Health Care

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, announced his Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 2124) surpassed a milestone today as over 100 bipartisan members of Congress have signed on to cosponsor the bill. Co-authored by Rep. Charles W. Boustany, Jr. (R-LA), the bill addresses the looming doctor shortage by expanding the current cap on the number of Medicare-supported residency training slots for doctors, helping to ensure teaching hospitals can meet the growing demands for more physicians.

“A doctor shortage is something we just can’t ignore,” said Rep. Crowley. “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. Taking action to increase the number of residency slots will enable us to continue developing the highly-trained physician workforce our nation needs.”

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a stunning shortage of as many as 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 Medical school enrollment is growing, yet the number of residency positions is still subject to an outdated cap, meaning that these medical school graduates will have no place to finish their required training.

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.

Crowley first introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act in 2009 and again in subsequent Congresses. The bill was reintroduced in the 114th Congress in April 2015.

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.