Sen. Casey seeks solution to doctor shortages

ANDY GRADEL / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Residency programs at Jefferson and other hospitals rely on funding from Medicare.
ANDY GRADEL / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Residency programs at Jefferson and other hospitals rely on funding from Medicare.
Posted: June 11, 2014

THE RESIDENT Physicians Shortage Reduction Act, introduced in March 2013, is intended to fix a large problem among the nation's recent medical-school grads - a shortage of doctors.

At a news conference yesterday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the act would create 15,000 medical-residency slots by 2019.

The Association of American Medical Colleges released data earlier this year showing an increase in medical-student enrollment, yet predicting a shortage of 90,000 doctors by 2020.

A residency is paid training required for new graduates before they can become staff physicians. Medicare funds these residencies, but a cap on applicants has remained the same since 1997.

And with aging baby boomers, that's becoming a concern.

"This bill would bring about a solution over time to the health-care delivery to seniors, families," Casey said.

Casey said the bill would create slots by getting rid of the cap on Medicare-funded residency positions. This would remedy the physician shortage and place more care in Veterans Affairs hospitals and health services, he said.

"We work very hard as residents, working 80-hour weeks, delaying family decisions and personal choices," said Lindsay Wilde, 32, of Northern Liberties, a graduating resident in the Department of Medicine at Jefferson. "And having additional support for the residents would, I think, make a huge difference in our lives and let us continue the work we came here to do."

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