Reps. Gallagher & Kind Introduce Bill to Expand Medical Residencies in Wisconsin

February 26, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher and Ron Kind introduced the bipartisan Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act, a bill that would amend an outdated Medicare rule limiting the funding under the Graduate Medical Education (GME) program for medical residencies in the state of Wisconsin, which will expand opportunity for residency training in community and rural hospitals.

According to one study, 50% of medical residents stay in-state to work after completion of their residency program. Wisconsin is home to over 150 hospitals, and would benefit by increasing the number of residencies across the state, ensuring rural communities have access to doctors and medical professionals.

“This bill is aimed at addressing something we’ve known for a long time – that rural areas like Northeast Wisconsin need more doctors. By offering additional medical resident opportunities, more doctors will continue to work locally upon completion of their training. When we allow our community hospitals to better train and retain the next generation of physicians, we help strengthen our healthcare and our community,” said Rep. Mike Gallagher.

“As I travel across western and central Wisconsin, I often hear about the challenges rural hospitals face recruiting and retaining high quality doctors. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill, which will help provide more opportunity for medical residencies here in our state, and ensure our rural communities have the medical professionals they need to stay healthy and strong,” said Rep. Ron Kind. 

The Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act is co-sponsored by the entire bipartisan Wisconsin delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and has the backing of several Wisconsin healthcare organizations, including the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the Wisconsin Rural Health Cooperative, and the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“WHA continues to champion efforts to fill Wisconsin’s workforce shortage, with targeted policies at the state level that address the failure of Washington to act on this issue at the federal level. We know that 86% of Wisconsin students who attend a medical school and residency in Wisconsin will stay and practice in Wisconsin, making local residency programs a key tool in attracting talent to Wisconsin hospitals. I want to thank Representatives Kind and Gallagher for leading on this effort, and look forward to the new Congress taking up this technical fix, as well as more expansive efforts to modernize the federal GME program,” said Eric Borgerding, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

“We appreciate Representatives Gallagher and Kind introducing this bill to address an important issue for the future healthcare workforce.   Without Graduate Medical Education funding, physician training is seriously impaired.  Unfortunately, under the current rules, Bellin is not able to provide a residency program to train physicians and qualify for GME funding.  This bill would remove the arbitrary payment cap that has prevented us from participating in a program to train physicians at Bellin Hospital,” said Bellin Health President & CEO Chris Woleske.

“RWHC very much appreciates Representatives Kind and Gallagher for continuing to lead on this effort, and we hope the new Congress will take up this technical fix. Graduate Medical Education needs to be forward looking, not hampered by well-intentioned efforts of the past. To train the next generation of physicians we need as much capacity as possible,” said Tim Size, Executive Director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.

“Unfortunately, HSHS St. Vincent Hospital has only received federal funding for 0.12 of one medical residents since the mid-90s—this has been an unfair challenge to overcome since we haven’t been able to change that funding limit. It puts us at a disadvantage because there are several medical students in the Green Bay community who want to become medical residents in Green Bay or close to a rural area, but they don’t have the opportunity. Medical residents often end up getting hired to be practicing physicians in the same community where they do their residency. The federal funding cap we have been challenged with could certainly be part of the reason we have a shortage of doctors in this state. And we need more doctors to help take care of patients and families in Green Bay,” said Therese Pandl, President and CEO of the HSHS Eastern Wisconsin Division Hospitals.

“Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay will graduate our second class of medical students this summer. Building medical residency capacity in northeast Wisconsin is critical to retaining Wisconsin’s best and brightest in the very areas of the state they grew up, were educated, and ultimately wish to serve. Medical College of Wisconsin deeply appreciates Representative Gallagher’s leadership to address unnecessary barriers to establishing residency programs for our graduates at MCW-Green Bay and a small number of similar locations throughout the nation. MCW respectfully requests Congress to address this nearly thirty-year old, outdated law, which has created insurmountable barriers to addressing the health needs of Wisconsin,” said John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Read H.R. 1358, the Advancing Medical Resident Training in Community Hospitals Act here


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