Legislation introduced in the U.S. House would increase the number of Graduate Medical Education slots available to help alleviate the physician shortage.

Reps. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) and Aaron Schock (R-IL) introduced the Training Tomorrow’s Doctors Today Act, H.R. 1201, which soon will be available at http://thomas.loc.gov. The bill would create 15,000 new GME slots over five years. In announcing the legislation, Schwartz said the country will have 62,900 fewer physicians than needed in 2015, rising to 130,000 by 2025.

The number of federally funded medical residencies has been frozen since 1997 and Medicare primarily funds GME slots for training medical school graduates in patient settings, according to Schwartz’s office. The legislation would permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue 3,000 new slots annually for five years. “Hospitals will be allowed to apply for the slots through one of two pools, but no hospital will be able to earn more than 75 slots,” according to an explanation of the bill. “This limit ensures smaller and rural hospitals are able to compete for the slots in the same manner as larger hospitals and hospital systems.”

The legislation also would require hospitals to report the full cost of their medical residency programs. It would require the Government Accountability Office to update a report on specialties in which there is a physician shortage. GAO also would be compelled to issue new reports recommending ways to increase diversity in the workforce and reviewing the competency of physicians who serve senior citizens with recommendations on improving senior care.

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