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To Address Nationwide Physician Shortage Crisis, Kaine Co-Sponsors the Bipartisan Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced his co-sponsorship of the bipartisan Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021, legislation to significantly increase Medicare-supported doctor training to help address the growing nationwide physician shortage crisis. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of up to 124,000 primary care and specialty physicians by 2034. Even before the pandemic, Virginia was anticipated to have a shortage of 3,911 doctors by 2030. According to AAMC data, Virginia has 1,996 residents in training at 24 teaching hospitals, with 330 residents not supported by Medicare funding, meaning hospitals are paying to support these slots out of their own revenue. This bill help would ease this burden on hospitals.

“The pandemic has underscored the dire lack of physicians to care for patients in urgent need,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to support this legislation, which takes important steps to get more doctors to the communities that need it most. As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, I will continue working to increase access to health care for families across the Commonwealth.”

Specifically, the Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021 would help address the nationwide physician shortage by:

  • Lifting the cap on the number of graduate medical education (GME) positions at qualifying hospitals;
  • Increasing the total number of GME slots nationwide by 14,000 over the next seven years, with half of these slots for specialist training and half for primary care;
  • Prioritizing increases in slots for hospitals in rural areas, hospitals in states with new medical schools, hospitals already training physicians in excess of their cap, and hospitals in a health professional shortage area; and
  • Requiring the Comptroller General to conduct a study on strategies for increasing the diversity of the health professional workforce.

In July, Kaine introduced his Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, legislation to authorize over $1 billion to support the direct care workforce and family caregivers.