Crowley Addresses Doctor Shortage
By MEGAN MONTALVOAt a time when the country faces a looming doctor shortage, medical schools have responded by expanding enrollment numbers in an effort to combat the Statewide population increase.
However, despite this expansion, some fear not enough work is being done to address an impending lapse in the healthcare system.
Seeking to create a boost in the number of available physicians, U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) announced the introduction of the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2012 on Sept. 28.
If passed, the legislation would expand the current cap on the number of Medicare-supported training slots for doctors by helping to ensure teaching hospitals can meet the growing demands for physicians.
“We face a cruel irony: retiring baby boomers and the newly-insured, now covered through the Affordable Care Act, will be accessing our health care system in greater numbers, but we won’t have nearly enough doctors on-the-ready to deliver the health care services they’ll need,” Crowley said. “A doctor shortage is something we just can’t ignore.”
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians in addition to 46,000 surgeons and medical specialists by the year 2020.
Under the proposed legislation, the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency positions would increase by 3,000 slots per year over five years, bringing the total number of slots available to approximately 102,000.
The increase would give State hospitals the ability to train about 500 new doctors while placing an emphasis on expanding residency slots in primary care and other specialties necessary to meet the needs of a growing population.
Reinforcing the need for added support, members from the Association of American Medical Colleges, Greater New York Hospital Association and the Healthcare Association of New York State have spoken out in favor of the Crowley’s announcement.
“This bill will help ensure that teaching hospitals across the country can train a robust, desperately needed physician workforce that will deliver high-quality patient care for decades to come,” said Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske. “We are extremely grateful to Representative Crowley for introducing this important legislation, and for recognizing that America’s looming physician shortage must be addressed right now.”
Reach Reporter Megan Montalvo at (718) 357-7400 Ext. 128 or mmontalvo@ queenstribune.com.