U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (CA-10), joined by U.S. Representative David G. Valadao (CA-21), have introduced H.R. 3451, the Creating Additional Residency Expansion Act (CARE Act) to further expand the Teaching Health Center (THC) Graduate Medical Education (GME) program.
“The CARE Act will bring more primary and specialty care physicians to medically underserved areas like ours so that patients can see the doctor they need without having to drive long distances,” said Congressman Denham. “Increasing the number of Teaching Health Center programs like we have at the Valley Consortium for Medical Education in Modesto will help us train and retain doctors right here in our community.”
“By expanding this program our legislation will increase THCGME residencies in high-need areas, and as a result, improve access to physicians in medically underserved areas,” said Congressman Valadao. “Not only does this bill create 240 new residency slots, it ensures centers will be created and expanded in areas that need them the most – like California’s Central Valley.”
The CARE Act builds upon legislation introduced earlier: H.R. 3394, the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act. While H.R. 3394 reauthorizes the THCGME Program and funds 120 new resident slots, the CARE Act funds double that number – 240 new resident slots – and establishes a minimum of 10 (and up to 20) new residency centers. Furthermore, it directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prioritize centers located in counties with higher than 35 percent of the population enrolled in Medicaid.
“Making sure that patients have affordable, timely access to physicians has always been a top priority for the California Medical Association,” said California Medical Association President Ruth E. Haskins, M.D. “With California facing a serious physician shortage, the Central Valley and other rural areas with large Medi-Cal populations are struggling to retain a physician workforce robust enough to keep up with patients’ needs. Physicians tend to set down roots in communities where they train; that’s why the CARE Act is an important step towards improving access to care for Central Valley patients, by expanding the number of Teaching Health Centers in these communities.”
“The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, over the past five years, has demonstrated that direct funding to community-based residency training programs results in a dramatic increase in the number of doctors continuing to practice primary care after residency, especially in rural and urban underserved areas. We strongly support Congressmen Denham and Valadao’s bill, which seeks to expand this program to many new communities. These new programs will help reduce our nation’s current and increasing shortage of primary care physicians,” said Neil S. Calman MD, MMS, FAAFP, President, American Association of Teaching Health Centers and President and CEP, the Institute for Family Health.
The THCGME program was created in 2010 to address the shortage of primary care physicians in rural and medically underserved communities.
The program currently supports 742 residents at 59 Teaching Health Centers throughout the nation.
The CARE Act adds 240 residency slots by providing $57 million over fiscal years 2019 ($19 million) and 2020 ($38 million).
Six Teaching Health Centers are located in the State of California, including Valley Consortium for Medical Education in Modesto and Clinica Sierra Vista in Bakersfield.
Funding for the THCGME program runs out September 2017.