WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced the bipartisan Physicians for Underserved Areas Act to help address the nationwide physician shortage by updating the Graduate Medical Education (GME) slot process following a hospital closure to prioritize sending federally-funded medical residency slots to areas where doctors are most needed.
“Nevada currently ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to primary care physicians per capita, and this shortage has had a dire impact on Nevadans’ ability to seek health care,” said Senator Rosen. “This bipartisan legislation will help add to the number of medical residency slots available for Nevada hospitals and encourage more doctors to come practice in our state, including in communities which previously have been underserved.”
“In rural states like Arkansas, the shortage of primary care physicians and specialty doctors creates a health care delivery challenge,” said Senator Boozman. “The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act is part of the solution to bridge this gap and encourage more medical school graduates to practice in rural areas. I’m pleased to continue advancing proposals to ensure all Americans, no matter where they live, get the care they need.”
“We are excited about this proposed legislation as it will help to relieve the physician shortage found in Nevada,” said Dr. Marc J. Kahn, Dean of the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ Kerkorian School of Medicine. “It is well known that physicians are most likely to practice where they have completed their training, especially if they have attended medical school in the same state. Nevada has significant shortages in nearly every physician specialty and we are woefully underfunded for residency positions compared to most other states. Any effort to decrease this disparity is greatly needed for our community.”
“Nevada continues to struggle with statewide physician workforce shortages,” said Dr. John Packham, Associate Dean of the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Medicine. “This important bill will support efforts by medical schools and teaching hospitals across the state to expand graduate medical education opportunities to train tomorrow’s doctors.”
The Nevada Primary Care Association, representing the state’s Community Health Centers, is grateful to Senator Rosen for introducing this important legislation,” said Nancy Bowen, CEO of the Nevada Primary Care Association. “Nevada has been blessed with rapid population growth throughout its modern history, but this has come at a cost of persistent and profound health provider shortages. The Physicians for Underserved Areas Act is an important step to increasing the number of providers who are trained in the state and stay to deliver health care to our residents.”
“Roseman University College of Medicine is dedicated to retaining the medical professionals we train here at home in the Las Vegas valley and GME modernization is an important part of that mission,” said Dr. Pedro “Joe” Greer, Dean of Roseman College of Medicine. “We thank Senator Rosen for engaging with us and the rest of the medical training community in the creation of this bill and look forward to a continued partnership in modernizing the GME program to fit our area’s needs.”
“It has been an honor and a privilege working alongside some of Nevada’s finest leaders in Senate, Undergraduate, and Graduate Medical Education,” said Angelina Rodriguez, MD, Family Medicine Program Director at Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. “As we continue to address healthcare access and disparity, including the alarming rate of physician shortage across our great state, we are committed to doing our part to give back to the communities we serve.”
The bipartisan Physicians for Underserved Areas Act would revise the GME process to give medical residency programs in areas with physician shortages a greater chance of gaining available residency slots after hospital closures elsewhere in the country. The legislation also would continue to prioritize keeping medical residency slots local and within the same state when hospitals close and would update the requirement for quickly filling GME slots.
Senator Rosen has been actively working to address the physician shortage in communities across Nevada. She has introduced or co-led bipartisan bills to:
- Fund additional Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and mobile clinics.
- Bring specialists to health centers in rural and underserved areas.
- Expand the Medical Student Education (MSE) Program, ensuring that Nevada is eligible for funding to help reduce its physician shortage.
- Pause interest accrual and student loan repayments during residency.
- Allow international physicians to remain in the United States upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in areas experiencing doctor shortages.