Bipartisan Bill Opens Residencies to DOs and COMLEX-USA
AACOM is excited to announce the introduction of the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act, H.R. 8850. Championed by Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Sam Graves (R-MO), this bipartisan bill ensures that osteopathic medical students and their exam, COMLEX-USA, are accepted in all Medicare-funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help strengthen the physician pipeline, support equitable treatment of osteopathic medical students and increase access to high-quality, patient-centered healthcare, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
The bill's introduction is the culmination of a year’s worth of advocacy where AACOM leveraged our partnerships with Venable and McDermott+ lobby firms in pursuit of a comprehensive and coordinated strategy to introduce legislation addressing this long-term discrimination. AACOM worked closely with our deans, students, faculty and the osteopathic community to grow congressional support through letters from colleges of osteopathic medicine and coordinated advocacy. AACOM also made the introduction of the FAIR Act a priority during our 2021 and 2022 Advocacy Days, identifying leaders and supporters through hundreds of osteopathic medical education-led congressional meetings.
While introduction is a significant first step, more needs to be done to achieve enactment. Congress has a busy fall calendar with many priority items left undone. With only seven legislative days left before they leave for the midterm elections, Congress must pass a temporary funding measure to avoid a government shutdown on September 30, 2022. Once in recess, lawmakers will pivot to campaigning and push legislative priorities to an end of year lame-duck session.
AACOM will aggressively pursue opportunities to advance the FAIR Act before the end of this congressional year. We will seek cosponsors to H.R. 8850 and pursue a Senate companion bill. We will also look for any chance to add the language to a moving vehicle, which will be unlikely given the limited congressional calendar. If unsuccessful, we will reintroduce the FAIR Act in the 118th Congress. We encourage the osteopathic community to help us continue this critical momentum to enact residency fairness for DOs.
Urge Congress to Support the FAIR Act
Whether you participated in grassroots efforts or one of the 141 congressional meetings during AACOM Advocacy Day, your outreach made a difference. We need the osteopathic community to keep the pressure up and grow congressional support to ensure federally funded graduate medical education (GME) programs equitably accept and assess DO residency candidates. Act now to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to cosponsor the FAIR Act (H.R. 8850) or introduce a Senate companion bill. Take action!
Press Releases for the FAIR Act
Robert A. Cain, DO, AACOM President and CEO: “Ensuring that osteopathic medical students have an equitable path to residency not only reflects the spirit of single accreditation, which was designed to increase access to residency programs for both DOs and MDs, but it also addresses persistent and prevalent biases against osteopathic medical students, many of whom will go on to care for patients in rural and medically underserved communities.”
Representative Diana Harshbarger (R-TN): “It’s more critical now than ever that we ensure our taxpayer-funded residency training programs are equally deploying all the best talent of tomorrow’s doctors and specialists, from both DO and MD educational backgrounds.”
Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME): “It’s ridiculous that osteopathic medical students are facing discrimination and extra hurdles to accessing federally funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help to ensure more accountability from these programs.”
Representative Sam Graves (R-MO): “North Missouri is the home to A.T. Still University in Kirksville, MO, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, which continues to train the next generation of DOs. In a day and age when doctors are in short supply, specifically in rural areas, it’s critical they are able to complete their training and begin practicing.”