by Brenée Goforth
Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
This week, Carolina Journal’s Dan Way reported on the lack of available residencies for graduating medical students. As he writes, nowhere is this felt more than in international medical schools. The article reads:
Fred Jacobs, executive vice president at St. George’s University in the West Indies nation of Grenada, said a ready supply of international students is available. But students can’t get a medical residency needed for licensure, hospital privileges, and board certification.
The American Association of Medical Colleges largely blames a cap the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 imposed on the number of residencies. Also, residencies — formally known as graduate medical education — are mostly paid with Medicare funds. There are more medical school graduates than available positions, yet Congress has resisted raising the cap or the funding.
This cap keeps U.S.-trained international students from setting up practices in North Carolina. As Way reports:
“We would of course like to have more students match into North Carolina because the quality of the programs are so good” at teaching hospitals like UNC and Duke, said Jacobs, former New Jersey commissioner of health, and ex-president of that state’s medical board of examiners that licenses doctors.
“But with the cap on residency slots there is no place for them to train.”
There is potential for change, way writes:
Bipartisan legislation known as the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 has been introduced in both houses of Congress (H.R. 1763, S. 348). It would raise the residency ceiling and increase Medicare funding.
However, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., is the bill’s lead sponsor, and his office aide told Carolina Journal:
“There are currently no legislative hearings scheduled in the Finance Committee, but we are working to build support for the bill, and working to advance it.”
More on the issue.
The North Carolina Senate has recently released their budget proposal for the upcoming year. In it, there is increased funding for Medicaid, provisions to amend the state’s Certificate of Need laws, the creation of an additional 1,000 innovation waiver slots, appropriations for an additional 100 school psychologist positions, additional funding to end the opioid crisis in NC, and a telehealth pilot program. To learn more about each of these appropriations, read JLF’s Jordan Roberts’ summary here.