Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he has helped secure an additional 24 Medicare-funded resident physician slots for Staten Island University Hospital. Federal law limits the number of Medicare-funded resident slots at hospitals across the country, but Staten Island became eligible for additional slots following recent hospital closures. The slots will allow Medicare to fund additional physicians to train at Staten Island University Hospital, ensuring that Staten Island has access to highly-qualified physicians in the face of physician shortages throughout the state. Schumer helped push for these positions to meet local demand. This will allow them to increase residency opportunities and help provide funding at a critical time for our hospitals.
Staten Island University Hospital was impacted after Superstorm Sandy ravaged sections of Staten Island. Flooding caused evacuation of the hospital's data center, shutting down computers that contained vital electronic records. Although many of the hospital's employees had been impacted by the storm, Staten Island University Hospital's emergency departments and long-term care facilities remained open.
"Ensuring that we have talented and capable physicians at hospitals across the state is essential to providing quality health care," said Schumer. "This is a big boost to Staten Island University Hospital's medical education program -- and its bottom line -- and will help combat the growing doctor shortage. Staten Island will soon be home to twenty-four more of today's residents and tomorrow's health experts."
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded New York teaching hospitals increases to their Medicare direct graduate medical education (DGME) and indirect medical education (IME) funding, known as "slots", thanks to the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. These slots will help boost the physician population on Staten Island, as many doctors wind up practicing close to the physical location where they complete their residency.
The Affordable Care Act included an important provision that established a process to permanently preserve the Medicare-funded residency slots from teaching hospitals that close. Previously, slots from closed hospitals could not be "returned' to the pool. In doing so, the Affordable Care Act directed CMS to create a pool based on the number of Medicare slots associated with the closed teaching hospitals' DGME and IME caps. This pool of DGME and IME slots is to be redistributed, giving priority to hospitals located in the same or contiguous core-based statistical area as the closed hospital, and that met other criteria. As a result, Staten Island University Hospital will receive medical education funding and ensure that the Staten Island teaching slots are not lost to other states.
There are 134 accredited, allopathic medical schools and approximately 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems in the U.S. that education and prepare the next generation of physicians. New York State is home to many of the nation's most prestigious academic medical centers and community teaching hospitals, making our state one of the world's premier centers for medical excellence.
Medical schools and teaching hospitals are also major economic engines for their communities and the national economy. A recent study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that accredited medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems employed over 1,861,549 individuals and generated $512.3 billion in 2008. New York medical schools and teaching hospitals had the largest effect in dollars, with more than $69 billion generated.
Previously, federal Medicare law placed an outdated cap on the number of residents New York hospitals and hospitals across the country are able to train without being penalized millions in Medicare funding. In 1997, the Balanced Budget Act froze the number of residents that a hospital could claim Medicare payment for, based on the number of residents that each hospital employed in 1996 and the cap has not changed since despite dramatic growth in the nation's population. The Affordable Care Act created a process to redistribute slots from closed hospitals, a first step to training more physicians and resulting in Staten Island University Hospital securing the additional slots that they received today.