GME funding remains in critical condition
As the spending debate continues in Washington, D.C., the future of medicine hangs in the balance. Dramatic cuts to graduate medical education (GME) remain on the negotiating table, and new developments highlight the need for Congress to act now and “Save GME!”
528. That’s the number of U.S. medical graduates who did not match into a residency this year. That’s nearly four students from every medical school in America, and it’s more than double the number from last year. This occurred, despite the fact that 99.4 percent of the available residency slots were filled— the highest percentage ever. Of the 61 positions left unfilled, less than half were in primary care. There were nearly 1,000 more U.S. medical grads competing for slots in 2013 than in 2012, and this number will only continue to grow as more than 20 new medical schools begin to graduate their students, and existing medical schools increase enrollment by as much as 30 percent. All of this comes on top of an ever-tightening bottleneck at the residency training level that continues to exacerbate a growing national physician shortage. Adequate funding for GME is an absolute must in this fragile environment. Any cuts could be potentially devastating.
Proposed GME funding cuts taking shape
$11 billion. That’s the portion of federal GME funding that President Obama’s administration proposes cutting over the next decade in its fiscal 2014 budget. Broken down on a yearly basis, these cuts represent approximately 10 percent of Medicare’s contribution to GME. Draconian cuts like these could result in serious access issues for patients in need of care—especially with 30 million Americans requesting more health care services in 2014 as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Other proposals to slash GME funding continue to swirl about the halls of Congress as well and, if acted upon, could seriously threaten the future of medicine in America.
As politicians continue to make tough choices on the spending front, it is absolutely critical that medical students, residents and young physicians speak out on this issue and add their unique perspectives to the debate.
Email and call your legislators using the AMA’s toll-free grassroots hotline at (800) 833-6354. (As few as 10 phone calls on a given issue can cause a lawmaker to reevaluate his or her position!)
Encourage your U.S. senators and representative to keep these proposed federal GME cuts from becoming reality, and remind them that you’ll be carefully watching their votes on this important issue. The future of medicine and your patients’ access to care depend on it!