GME funding advancing physician shortage

Because residency training slots funded by Medicare have remained capped since 1996, many healthcare facilities are either forced to turn away residents or pay for their training out of pocket. According to Tim Johnson, senior vice president and executive director of the Center for GME Policy & Services at the Greater New York Hospital Association, 38% of teaching hospitals are training at or below their Medicare funding limit. Healthcare experts worry that this is one more factor leading to a future physician shortage.

“We have medical students graduating who aren’t able to get post-graduate training spots,” says Ana Maria Lopez, MD, FACP, president of the American College of Physicians. “By limiting GME funds, that limits GME slots, which limits care for people.”

According to data from the National Resident Matching Program, 38,000 applicants competed for 35, 185 residency positions in 2019.

Limited GME funding is also leading to a decline in primary care physicians and an increase in specialty physicians, by encouraging hospitals to offer residency training slots in specialties. That is because specialists are likely to generate more revenue for the hospital. “In a fee-for-service environment, I can justify hiring an orthopedic resident much easier than I can justify hiring an additional primary resident,” explains David Hughes, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Kaleida Health.

Source: Modern Healthcare