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Harder Introduces New Bill to Bring More Doctors to the Central Valley
Congressman Josh Harder

Representative Josh Harder just announced he is co-leading a new bill with Representative Jerry McNerney, the Train More Doctors Act of 2022which would bring more doctors to the Central Valley by expanding local hospitals’ residency slots. Specifically, the bill will extend the current Medicare Graduate Medical Education (GME) residency cap timeline for teaching hospitals that have had their recruitment disrupted by the COVID-19 public health crisis. The pandemic has severely impacted hospitals in underserved areas in their ability to recruit physicians and build out residency programs. The current rule places a cap on residency slots based on the fifth year of operation. This bill would add a two-year extension to the program.


“The Valley is in dire need of more doctors plain and simple. Today, I’m proud to introduce the Train More Doctors Act, which will do exactly what it sounds like: train more doctors here in our community.” said Rep. Harder. “We know 57% of new doctors are likely to stay in the communities where they did their residency, so it’s common sense to train folks here so they stay here. The reality is, people in the Valley have to deal with longer wait times, higher costs and insufficient care because we don’t have enough doctors in our area. That’s not right and I’m determined to fix it.”


Currently, hospitals that establish residency programs in underserved areas are eligible for accreditation and funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) after a five-year building period. Hospitals like St. Joseph’s Medical Center in San Joaquin County, a chronically underserved area, started their residency program in 2018 and was expected to finish building by 2022. Though with the pandemic preventing students, physicians, and doctors from traveling or relocating, recruitment has severely slowed. The Train More Doctors Act of 2022 would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to extend the period for certain teaching hospitals to establish full-time equivalent residency caps for new residency training programs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Donald Wiley, President & CEO of St. Joseph's Medical Center of Stockton illustrates the issue by saying, “We have worked hard, been creative but there is no doubt that the pandemic will have far reaching impacts on our success without relief in the form of an extension of our initial CAP build period. As an example of our creativity, we hired our Program Director for psychiatry without a visit to California, something we have never done before.” 


This bill would continue the work Representative Harder has done to bring more doctors to the Valley including the Stopping Doctors Shortages Act.