Looming Physician Shortfall Will Deny Specialist Services to Patients

Congress needs to act immediately to eliminate funding restrictions for graduate medical education.

There will not be enough specialists to meet a growing need unless lawmakers remove funding restrictions on Medicare graduate medical education (GME)—and soon, argues Alex B. Valadka, MD, in an opinion piece in the Hill. Valadka, spokesman for the Alliance of Specialty Medicine, notes that the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped GME funding.

“This cap is highly problematic because it is not the number of medical students trained, but rather the number of positions in the GME system that determines the supply of physicians,” Valadka writes.

Specifically, the Alliance backs the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, presented in both the Senate and House, which he says would increase the number of Medicare-supported residency slots by 15,000 in the next five years.

“If adopted, this bipartisan legislation would go a long way towards addressing this looming physician workforce crisis,” Valadka writes.