House bill would fund primary care residency programs

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 26, 2011

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Proposed legislation in the House would launch a pilot project to fund primary care residencies to bolster the number of physicians practicing in rural areas.

Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R, Wash.) and Mike Thompson (D, Calif.) introduced the Primary Care Workforce Access Improvement Act, which would allocate a portion of graduate medical education funding to community-based primary care residency programs. The local programs also would work with area hospitals.

The American Academy of Family Physicians and several other primary care organizations support the bill. Primary care residents need to spend the bulk of their time training in the communities where they will practice, said AAFP President Glen Stream, MD.

"Funding for physician training directly influences the types of physicians we produce as a nation, and the current system doesn't foster production of primary care physicians," Dr. Stream said.

The health system reform law already has created a similar program, said Tannaz Rasouli, a senior legislative analyst with the Assn. of American Medical Colleges. The Health Resources and Services Administration awarded $1.9 million to 11 programs in January. An additional $19.3 million in funding was awarded in October to dozens of programs to train primary care physicians and physician assistants.

Congress needs to continue focusing on increasing residency training programs, Rasouli said. The House proposal would not add more positions, she noted.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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