Tester, Barrasso Bill Aims to Address Rural Doctor Shortage

The bipartisan Rural Physician Workforce Production Act would improve access to health care in frontier communities

Continuing their efforts to address the shortage of medical professionals in rural America, U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) today re-introduced their bipartisan Rural Physician Workforce Production Act to improve access to health care in frontier communities.

“Too many folks in Washington don’t understand the challenges rural Americans face accessing high-quality health care,” said Tester. “I’ll always work to ensure Montanans can receive the care they need. That’s why I’m introducing this bipartisan legislation to cut the burdensome red tape that prevents rural hospitals from bringing in more residents, and ensures those facilities have the resources they need to recruit and retain doctors for the long haul.”

“As a doctor, I know how important it is to train the next generation of Wyoming physicians. During my time practicing medicine, I was honored to mentor young health care professionals early in their careers,” said Barrasso. “Our bipartisan legislation is a critical step in getting more doctors to rural areas to provide the highest quality of care to our patients in Wyoming and across America.”

Currently, one of the primary indicators of where a doctor will ultimately practice is the location of their residency. This puts rural hospitals at a disadvantage as they often cannot afford to take on new residents, regardless of need. Tester and Barrasso’s bipartisan Rural Physician Workforce Production Act addresses the geographic misdistribution of physicians across the U.S. stemming from the current structure of the Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) by lifting the current cap on Medicare reimbursement payments to rural hospitals that cover the cost of taking on residents, in order to alleviate the serious disadvantage that rural hospitals face when recruiting new medical professionals.

The bill would also allow Medicare to reimburse urban hospitals that send residents to train at rural health care facilities during a resident rotation, and it would establish a per resident payment initiative to ensure rural hospitals have the resources to bring on additional residents.

The Rural Physician Workforce Production Act is supported by the National Rural Health Association, the Council of Academic Family Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

Full text of the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act is available HERE.


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