The future of health care in the United States depends on graduate medical education (GME), but already inadequate medical residency funding will be slashed in a matter of weeks.
Unless Congress acts before March 1, the federal budget sequester will inflict a 2 percent cut on GME’s Medicare financing. The cut will take effect April 1 and continue for nearly a decade. At such a critical time for health care, our nation cannot afford to further limit GME.
Workforce experts predict a shortage of nearly 63,000 physicians in just two years. The shortage is expected to reach 130,000 physicians across all specialties by 2025. All this while 30 million newly insured Americans will gain access to health care coverage.
Meantime, the number of available residency slots will fall below the number of students graduating from U.S. medical schools by as soon as 2015. That means capable young people will be prepared to fill the growing physician shortage but won’t be permitted to get the training they need to do so.
In addition, patients in dire need often receive their medical care through residency programs. Teaching hospitals provide 40 percent of all charity care—$8.4 billion annually. And while 90 percent of teaching hospitals provide ambulatory services to HIV/AIDS patients, just 14 percent of other hospitals do.