• Medicare GME Final Rule is a Significant Step to Improve Health Equity, Address Primary Care Workforce Shortage, Physician Maldistribution

    Tuesday, December 21, 2021

    Statement attributable to:
    Sterling Ransone, Jr., MD, FAAFP
    American Academy of Family Physicians

    “The policy finalized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) on Friday for distributing 1,000 new Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) residency positions—the largest addition of new slots since the program began nearly 25 years ago—is a positive step towards addressing physician workforce shortages and achieving health equity by improving access to high-quality care in the areas of greatest need. The AAFP has long advocated for federal GME policies to address the maldistribution of physicians and disparate access to care across the country.

    “The AAFP applauds CMS’s decision to train physicians where they can have the most impact by prioritizing applications for new residency slots for those training programs located in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs). These institutions provide much needed care for rural and other underserved populations, and we agree the Medicare GME program should support the expansion of their residency programs. Since physicians tend to practice near to where they complete their training, this rule will encourage physicians to practice in areas where physicians are needed most.

    “The AAFP is also pleased CMS made a number of modifications in the final rule to level the playing field for small hospitals and ensure they have a fair shot at receiving new GME slots. These hospitals often struggle to expand their residency programs without additional Medicare funding, but serve as an essential source of care in their communities. This rule would also expand residency training opportunities in rural areas and encourage hospitals to establish new rural training sites—facilitating access to comprehensive primary care in more rural communities.

    “While the rule will help address longstanding concerns with the Medicare GME program, more must be done to tackle physician shortages and disparate access to care. We look forward to working with Congress to build upon these policies and pass legislation which would add 4,000 new Medicare GME slots—25% of which would be allotted to primary care—to more comprehensively mitigate ongoing shortages and disparities in access to care.” 


    Editor's Note: To arrange an interview with Dr. Ransone, contact Julie Hirschhorn, 202-655-4949, or jhirschhorn@aafp.org.

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    About American Academy of Family Physicians
    Founded in 1947, the AAFP represents 129,600 physicians and medical students nationwide. It is the largest medical society devoted solely to primary care. Family physicians conduct approximately one in five office visits -- that’s 192 million visits annually or 48 percent more than the next most visited medical specialty. Today, family physicians provide more care for America’s underserved and rural populations than any other medical specialty. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing, personal patient-physician relationship focused on integrated care. To learn more about the specialty of family medicine and the AAFP's positions on issues and clinical care, visit www.aafp.org. For information about health care, health conditions and wellness, please visit the AAFP’s consumer website, www.familydoctor.org.