There's a Shortage of Physicians, and This Bill Could Help

Public health experts have spent years warning us about a physician shortage. Then COVID-19 hit, and the supply of physicians became even more critical.

Between retiring Boomer doctors, the complex health needs of an aging population, and a declining number of primary care providers, healthcare demand is rising higher than the number of doctors. In June 2020, the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted an estimated shortage of 54,100-139,000 U.S. physicians, both primary care and specialists, by 2033.

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 seeks to alleviate this shortage by lifting a limit on the number of Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) positions. This bill has been introduced in the U.S. House and in the Senate.

What’s in the bill?

Under the bill, the number of GME positions nationwide will be raised by 14,000 over seven years. This is in addition to a 1,000-slot increase included in the FY21 omnibus year-end funding bill. The positions would primarily go to those states with new medical schools, hospitals training physicians beyond their current cap, hospitals partners of VA medical centers, and hospitals with a community-based training focus.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recently announced its support of this bill. In an official statement, ACR noted that rural and other underserved areas will also be targets for the new residence positions. ACR will continue to follow the bill’s progress and share updates.

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