This Month's News
States taking action to ensure graduate medical education funding
The number of insured Americans is rising, and the fastest growing component of the population is over the age of 65. The increased demand for access to health care services underscores the need for a strong effort to avert the predicted shortage of 90,000 physicians within the coming decade. As the AMA continues to encourage innovative approaches to funding physician training nationwide, several states and regions are taking action to ensure an adequate number of physicians.
With the fourth fastest growing population among the states, Georgia faces an urgent need to bolster funding for physician training. The University System of Georgia Board of Regents requested $1.2 million to add 400 residency positions across the state, to aid hospitals with start-up costs to create these positions. Gov. Nathan Deal offered support for this proposal in a Jan. 10 speech.
"Presently, because we lack adequate residency program capacity, Georgia taxpayers help fund a promising young Georgian's pre-K, K-12, postsecondary and graduate-level medical education only to see them perform their residency outside of our state and not return," said Deal, as quoted in The Augusta Chronicle. "That doesn't provide value for Georgians paying taxes. It doesn't make sense for Georgians needing care, and it isn't fair to young Georgians looking to begin medical careers."
Another effort in the state to expand medical education involves a proposed merger between the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) and the University of Georgia (UGA). MCG is the state's only public university solely devoted to health sciences, and UGA is its leading research university, complete with a college of Public Health. The partnership, if implemented, could allow the MCG School of Medicine to expand from 745 to 1,200 students by 2020, about a 60 percent increase.
Meanwhile, in the Northeast, the University of Vermont is footing the bill for the nearly $13 million of the state's Medicaid match of its $30 million total in GME funding. This will help fund residencies as well as "open up funding for safety-net programs for low-income people without dipping into state coffers," reports VTDigger.org. Also, Vermont is seeking to decrease its primary care physician shortage, as described in a report by the Vermont Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Network.
Finally, in the Northwest, the WWAMI program (in Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho) will hold a GME Summit in Spokane on March 23 to explore key issues in financing GME in the region. The audience will include legislators as well as residency program directors, physicians interested in starting new residency programs, and hospital administrators who have GME programs or are planning to start GME programs.