Addressing Doctor Shortage in Montana is Aim of Tester’s Bipartisan Bills

Legislation Will Build Pipeline from Medical Schools to Rural Areas

(U.S. Senate)—To address the growing doctor shortage in Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced multiple bipartisan bills to bring more medical professionals to rural areas.

One of the greatest indicators of where a doctor will practice is the location of their residency. Tester’s bills, the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act and the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act, will eliminate red tape to allow rural hospitals to strengthen partnerships with medical schools and bolster the use of the successful Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program to increase the number of residents serving Montana.

“The doctor shortage in rural America threatens the future of frontier communities in Montana,” Tester said. “If we want more doctors to practice in rural areas, we need to train them in rural areas—and these bills will help build a stronger pipeline of medical residents from universities to our rural hospitals.”

Tester’s Rural Physician Workforce Production Act lifts the current caps on Medicare reimbursement payments to rural hospitals that cover the cost of taking on residents. This change will eliminate the serious disadvantage that rural hospitals face when recruiting residents. The bill also allows Medicare to reimburse urban hospitals that send residents to train at rural health care facilities during a resident rotation, and it establishes a per resident payment initiative to ensure rural hospitals have the resources to bring on additional residents.

Tester’s Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act reauthorizes the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program and provides $647.5 million over five years to support residency programs in rural areas like Montana. The bill will also provide an additional $60 million to help existing Teacher Health Centers to expand primary care, dental, and psychiatric services and meet the growing need for care.

There are dozens of Critical Access Hospitals that serve rural communities across Montana.

In his message to Montanans at the start of the 116th Congress, Tester vowed to work with both parties to strengthen rural hospitals and clinics and to lower the cost of health care.

Tester’s Rural Physician Workforce Production Act is cosponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), and his Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act is cosponsored by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).