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AACOM Urges White House to Protect Graduate Medical Education

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 13, 2011

Contact:
Wendy Fernando
Vice President for Communications and Marketing
Phone: 301-968-4174 E-mail: wfernando@aacom.org

The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) sent a letter today urging the administration to protect graduate medical education (GME) and oppose any funding cuts to this critical element of our health care system. If funding for GME is cut during the current efforts to control spending and bring the nation’s deficit under control, residency programs will be unable to continue educating their current numbers of resident physicians, much less the additional physicians the nation needs and U.S. medical colleges are all working to produce. In the letter, AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, writes:

  • Medicare funding provides the principal financial resource for the training of medical residents. Cutting funding for GME programs would result in fewer future physicians being trained and, ultimately, fewer patients being treated.
  • Medicare funding in support of GME must be sustained. The nation’s medical residency programs currently receive approximately $9.5 billion annually, which is used to fund an already insufficient number of residency slots each year.
  • A variety of factors are driving the need for greater numbers of physicians to serve the nation’s public — current and projected physician workforce shortages; 32 million newly insured individuals resulting directly from the Affordable Care Act; an aging population and an accompanying rise in the incidence of chronic disease; and new models of care aimed at providing more accessible, more affordable care to more Americans. To meet these challenges, we need more physicians to be trained, not fewer.

Both the Teaching Health Center GME program authorized by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Children’s Hospitals GME program, which supports the training of approximately 40 percent of all general pediatricians and pediatric specialists, are federally funded residency programs that operate outside of Medicare funding. These programs help to address some health care access concerns. Reducing the funding to any of these GME programs would be devastating to the patients these physicians serve and to the entire health care system.

Quote from the Letter by AACOM President and CEO Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH:

“If we are to maintain the physician training infrastructure, it is important that you protect GME, the bedrock of physician training and a determinant of the current and future quality of health care.”

More Information

July 7 letter to Congress from AACOM and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), urging policy makers to protect GME funding.

July 8 Statement on Potential Congressional Cuts to Medicare-Funded Graduate Medical Education from AACOM President Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH

Recent stories run by press outlets throughout the country:

The Coming Shortage of Doctors: 
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703574604574499423536935290.html

Hospital Care, Physician Training at Risk to Cuts: 
http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110710/OPINION03/307100032/Hospital-care-physician-training-risk-cuts

Residency Training Restricted: 
http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/jun/27/residencytrainingrestricted/

Training Doctors as a Shortage Looms: 
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2011/jul/09/training-be-doctor-shortage-looms/

Mass. Hospitals May Lose $322m: U.S. Deficit Talks Target Medicare: 
http://articles.boston.com/2011-07-08/business/29752512_1_stuart-altman-medicare-program-training-of-medical-residents

Contacts for AACOM Policy Position on Graduate Medical Education

Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH 
President and CEO 
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 
(301) 968-4142 
president@aacom.org

Pamela Murphy, MSW 
Director of Government Relations 
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 
(301) 968-9151 
pmurphy@aacom.org

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