Next step taken in residency reshuffling

Hospitals have asked for 5,000 resident positions, but only 3,000 are available.

By — Posted July 18, 2005

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Hospitals will soon know if they'll get more federal money for graduate medical education. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services sent out overnight letters June 24 to all hospitals hoping to participate in a reallocation of vacant residency slots.

The letters detail the number of resident positions the hospitals are eligible for, the category the hospitals fall into -- such as rural or urban, small or large -- and their ranking on a 15-point scale.

A score of 15 would indicate a program most likely to receive additional graduate medical education payments.

The CMS letters only confirm each applicant's data. The agency plans to announce specific slot assignments in July, and payments for the new slots will be at half the rate hospitals get for current residency positions.

This is the first redistribution of Medicare medical education payments since the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 capped funding at 1996 levels.

Under the 2003 Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act, hospitals with unfilled Medicare-funded residency slots will lose them, while hospitals seeking additional funding for residency expansions have the chance to get the funds.

An estimated 550 hospitals, representing 1,700 residency programs, have requested funding for 5,000 slots, according to CMS. However, only 3,000 vacant positions had been identified.

Medicare officials say programs in rural or underserved areas will be first to get the coveted positions.

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