CMS Connect Login:

Login Assistance

A Win for GME Advocacy

CMS adds momentum to physician workforce bill

By Elizabeth Sidney

Inching closer to legislation, the Chicago Medical Society won a commitment from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley to support HR 2124, a CMS-backed bill that boosts graduate medical education. The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act is the centerpiece of CMS’ grassroots GME campaign, and a top priority for Society leaders, students, and area teaching institutions.

Congressman Quigley, who came for a CMS-hosted roundtable event, heard from physicians and medical students gathered at Society headquarters on Aug. 20. He joins a growing list of lawmaker to get on board, giving new energy to CMS’ workforce advocacy.

Carrying the Torch Forward

The long march to passing a bill begins with relationships. Making wise use of members’ dues dollars, the Society continually educates Congress on matters impacting medicine. Sometimes one lawmaker at a time. This investment pays off with their support for CMS-backed bills.

Rep. Quigley is the only Illinois representative to sit on the House Appropriations Committee, making his interest in CMS initiatives all the more valuable.

His pledge adds to a groundswell of support for GME legislation. Early this year, the Society secured a commitment from U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, who told CMS leaders he will co-sign a companion Senate bill. At last count, HR 2124 had 69 co-sponsors, and S 1148, 12 co-sponsors.

Both proposals create 15,000 Medicare-sponsored slots, which would be distributed across the U.S., with a special focus on primary care shortage areas. The bills are a big step forward for students who amass over $160,000 in loan debt without any guarantee they will land a spot. Students Mark Looman and Christiana Shoushtari cited an IHS report that projects widespread physician shortages in the near future. Each year, a significant number of U.S. medical school graduates do not match to residencies, and the problem will only worsen as teaching institutions ramp up enrollment without commensurate increases in training slots.

Several converging trends—U.S. population growth, health insurance availability, and aging baby boomers—will overwhelm the current physician workforce, CMS President Kathy Tynus, MD, stressed to Rep. Quigley. In states like Missouri, medical school graduates have gone to work as physician assistants, added Kenneth Busch, MD, immediate past president of CMS.

Roundtable participants also urged the congressman to support HR 3309, Flexibility in HIT Reporting and Advancing Interoperability Act, or Flex-IT Act. “The high cost of EHRs and burden of achieving meaningful use forces some physicians to give up their practices,” Dr. Tynus said. Patient care gets delayed when EHR systems don’t talk to each other because of software proprietary issues, Dr. Tynus noted. “HR 3309 would slow down the meaningful use requirements and facilitate data sharing.”

The roundtable also dove into violence and mental health. Dr. Tynus highlighted proposed legislation to allow the CDC to gather data on gun violence. Rep. Quigley heard from several psychiatrists who voiced their deep frustration with poor insurance parity and limits on drug prescribing. HR 2646, Helping Families in Mental Health Crises Act, is another CMS-backed bill for which panelists sought the congressman’s support.

“We’re working hard to ensure the Chicago Medical Society is your voice for change.”

Document Actions

Join CMS

Why join?  The Chicago Medical Society offers many benefits, including career placement, advocacy, networking, and member to member collaboration. Click here to explore all the benefits of membership.

CMS Connect

CMS Connect is an exclusive community that allows members to discuss the issues impacting their practices today. Visit CMS Connect today.