Two Medicare GME Bills Reintroduced in Congress

Gallagher/Kind Bill would fix “rotator” issue; Sen. Menendez bill would add 15,000 GME slots

March 05, 2019

Two bills aimed at making it easier for hospitals to establish training opportunities for medical residents were recently reintroduced in Congress.

Last week, Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and Ron Kind (D-WI) reintroduced legislation to fix an issue that has led to artificially low Graduate Medical Education (GME) caps for a handful of hospitals across the country, including two in Wisconsin. Their bill would fix an issue created by Medicare’s 1997 GME cap that froze the number of Medicare-funded training slots for hospitals. The impacted hospitals hosted medical resident “rotators” for very brief periods of time and had their GME cap set at less than 1.0 FTE. The legislation would allow them to establish a new FTE cap and “per resident amount” in order to expand training opportunities and is once again cosponsored by the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation and supported by WHA.

“WHA continues to champion efforts to fill Wisconsin’s workforce shortage, with targeted policies at the state level that address the failure of Washington to act on this issue at the federal level,” said Eric Borgerding, WHA President and CEO. “ We know that 86% of Wisconsin students who attend a medical school and residency in Wisconsin will stay and practice in Wisconsin, making local residency programs a key tool in attracting talent to Wisconsin hospitals. I want to thank Representatives Kind and Gallagher for leading this effort and look forward to the new Congress taking up this technical fix, as well as more expansive efforts to modernize the federal GME program.” 

In addition to this bill, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) has reintroduced legislation that would increase the number of Medicare-funded GME slots by 15,000 over five years. The legislation would prioritize slots for new medical schools or those that have opened additional locations and branch campuses after 
January 1, 2000. 

Subsequent priority would be given to hospitals training over their cap, hospitals affiliated with the VA, hospitals that train in community-based settings or hospital outpatient departments, and hospitals that operate a rural training track. Additionally, half of all new slots received would have to be used for shortage specialty residencies. 

Wisconsin is one of several states that have added new medical residency campuses in the last 5-10 years, which should put our state in good position to receive new slots according to WHA’s preliminary analysis of the bill. However, the multiple priority factors contained in the bill make it difficult to project an accurate number of slots that might be awarded to each state. 

Contact WHA Director of Federal Relations Jon Hoelter or Vice President of Workforce & Clinical Practice Ann Zenk for more information on either proposal.

This story originally appeared in the March 05, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter