Menendez, Booker, Pascrell, Gottheimer Introduce Legislation to Combat NJ’s Physician Shortage

Menendez, Booker, Pascrell, Gottheimer Introduce Legislation to Combat NJ’s Physician Shortage

Additional 2,800 physicians needed in NJ by 2020

 

TEANECK, N.J. – U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) and Congressmen Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.-09) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.-05) today introduced legislation in the Senate and the House that will help address New Jersey’s physician shortage by modifying an out-of-date cap on graduate medical education (GME) slots that limits the abilities of New Jersey hospitals to increase the number of residency slots in the state.

“Medicine is a truly noble profession, and it all starts with education and training. Hospital residencies are a formative time in the career of every doctor in America. It’s a time to take the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom and apply them to patient care. And for many doctors it’s also a time to lay down roots and decide where they want to build their careers, their families and their lives,” said Sen. Menendez. “We want America’s best and brightest medical school graduates to lay down those roots in New Jersey. That’s why we need the Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act.”

 

“This legislation will break down a bureaucratic barrier and allow New Jersey to attract more talented medical professionals to our state,” said Sen. Booker. “It’s important that we create a pipeline of qualified doctors who can meet the demand for high quality care for all New Jerseyans. Ensuring that physicians begin their careers in the Garden State means they will not only keep our communities healthy, but will contribute to our growing economy.”

“The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortfall of up to 120,000 physicians nationwide by the year 2030. Next year, we are expected to need up to 2,800 new physicians in New Jersey,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell. “A healthy nation builds its medical fleet, and right now we’re not doing that in New Jersey. If we want to keep growing as a state and a nation we need to bolster our medical pipeline by expanding physician training programs. Our legislation will reverse outdated policies hindering this expansion and allow community institutions to support more graduate medical students. Instituting this change will create new jobs, it will encourage people to stay in New Jersey, and most of all it will ensure the health of our children and their children.”

“New Jersey’s robust and innovative health care industry is critical to our economy and to keeping our residents and communities safe. We’re the proud home to world-class research institutions, amazing education facilities, and life-saving hospitals and clinics. However, we’re in the midst of a physician shortage that threatens to undermine our quality of care and economic competitiveness,” said Rep. Josh Gottheimer. “This critical legislation will help correct arbitrary and outdated regulations in order to attract more graduate medical students to our state, which will help keep our communities safe and healthy and help grow our economy.”

Sen. Menendez and Reps. Pascrell and Gottheimer outlined the bill to lift those arbitrary caps at a press conference today at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J.

In 1997, the Balanced Budget Act created an arbitrary cap on the number of Medicare-funded GME positions. The Supporting Graduate Medical Education at Community Hospitals Act addresses this problem for community hospitals like Holy Name Medical Center, allowing them to invest in teaching programs that will keep New Jersey’s health workforce competitive.

New Jersey currently suffers from a shortage of physicians. A New Jersey Physician Workforce Task Force report estimates that an additional 2,500 to 2,800 physicians by 2020 are necessary to meet New Jersey’s health care needs. According to data from the New Jersey Hospital Association (NJHA), a third of New Jersey’s practicing physicians are over 60 years-old, the third highest in the nation, and the state ranks 46th in the nation in the percentage of doctors under 40, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Each year, New Jersey has approximately 3,100 physician residents in training at 43 hospitals. At the same time, NJHA estimates that New Jersey has approximately 32 medical students and resident physicians in training per 100,000 residents compared to 81 and 62 in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania, respectively.

"We are grateful to Senator Menendez, Congressman Gottheimer and Congressman Pascrell for introducing a bill that addresses the critical physician shortage happening in New Jersey," said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. "The shortage is due in part to increased patient demand and a retiring physician workforce, but also because of a law that passed in the late 90s that either locked hospitals out of residency training slots or capped their training slots at a lower number. In New Jersey alone, we’ll need upwards of 2800 new doctors by next year to meet the state’s increasing demands and unfortunately there’s this bottleneck now because of the outdated law. The new bill will make it easier for hospitals to expand physician training programs in the state and ultimately support our mission to care for New Jersey families."

Earlier this year, Sen. Menendez introduced the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act, which would increase the number of graduate medical education positions Medicare pays for by 15,000 over a five-year period.

 

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