Blue Dogs Back Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Expand Teaching Health Center Programs, Address Physician Shortage
WASHINGTON—Today, the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition announced its endorsement of the bipartisan, bicameral H.R. 2815, Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act, a bill that would improve access to physicians in rural communities. Specifically, the legislation reauthorizes and expands the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program to address the physician shortage facing communities across the country. The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Coalition’s Task Force on Rural Opportunity, as well as Reps. Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Phil Roe (TN-01) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05).
“In southern New Mexico, it is not just about health care affordability, it’s about health care accessibility,” said Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM-02), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity. “Too often New Mexicans drive hours through the night or across state lines to access basic health care services. By reauthorizing and expanding the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, we are strengthening the pipeline of doctors-in-training to rural hospitals and increasing health care access for our most rural communities. I appreciate the support of the Blue Dog Caucus as we work together to highlight the urgency of my bill. I urge all of my colleagues in the House to support this bipartisan legislation and deliver better health care access to all our constituents.”
“Expanding reliable access to highly trained physicians should be a top priority for the long-term growth and success of our rural communities. But in Central Virginia, many of our counties need additional personnel to fill vacancies in our local facilities and meet the full healthcare needs of our neighbors,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Co-Chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on Rural Opportunity. “To combat the chronic physician shortage in rural America, the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act would help attract talented medical residents to underserved and rural areas. I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation, because this bill would not only help fill an existing void in Central Virginia, but it would serve to attract dedicated medical professionals to one day raise their families, begin careers, and contribute to the economies of our rural communities.”
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, by 2032, the United States will see a shortage of up to 122,000 physicians nationwide, as growing demand for health care services outpaces supply. First established by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program has worked to fill this gap, by helping to train medical residents in community-based settings, including low-income, underserved rural and urban neighborhoods. Residents who train at teaching health centers are significantly more likely to remain in rural or underserved communities.
Nationwide, this program has produced real results. Since the program began, 632 new primary care physicians and dentists have graduated and entered the workforce, and the number of Americans served is in the millions.
The Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act would reauthorize the THCGME Program for $647.5 million over five years to support residency programs spanning across the United States. It would also authorize a total of $60 million over five years to create new Teaching Health Centers and allow existing Teaching Health Centers to expand and provide new services—such as psychiatry and dentistry—to meet the growing need for community health care.
The Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act has gained support from numerous physician and medical education associations, including:
- The American Association of Teaching Health Centers;
- The National Association of Community Health Centers;
- The American Academy of Family Physicians;
- The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine; and
- The Council of Academic Family Medicine.