Graduate Medical Education

Overview

With the creation of the Medicare program in 1965, a funding stream was established to support the training of medical residents in support of Medicare beneficiary care. Today, Medicare remains the single largest payer of graduate medical education (GME), with expenditures totaling about $9.5 billion annually.

Despite the importance of GME funding in helping to avert a physician shortage, budgetary concerns have led some in Congress to propose major reductions in GME expenditures. Critics question the overall value of the program, and concerns have been raised regarding a lack of accountability for educational funds provided exclusively to hospitals.

The AAFP recognizes the financial pressures facing the federal government and concurs that the GME program must be modernized to keep pace with an ongoing shift in care delivery away from hospitals. Nonetheless, the AAFP has repeatedly urged Congress to prevent cuts to this essential program.

The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, funded since 2011 and set to expire in 2015, is one type of GME program that is vital to family medicine. THCs increased the numbers of primary care physicians and dentists training to care for underserved populations nationwide. Without continued federal funding, most of these THCs report that they would be unlikely to continue current residency recruitment and enrollment, threatening the initial program investments and even the viability of the program itself. Please see the below video to learn more about the value of THCs.


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