Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), House Republican Conference Chair, joined Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) today to introduce the Primary Care Workforce Access Improvement Act of 2013. Their bill promotes the training of primary care physicians in rural areas and tests innovative and cost-neutral ways to distribute graduate medical education (GME) payments for the purpose of increasing the number and quality of primary care physicians in the United States.
"As we continue to address the disparities in rural health care, one issue stands out: the shortage of primary care physicians," said McMorris Rodgers. "Our legislation encourages residents to train in rural areas like Eastern Washington. Once they complete residency, doctors usually stay in the area where they train, so our legislation is a vital first step to improving access to primary care in rural areas."
The bipartisan Primary Care Workforce Access Improvement Act of 2013 will modernize primary care training by implementing pilot programs to test various models of providing funding to entities that train primary care physicians. This will be beneficial to hospitals, physicians, and residents in rural and underserved areas. The bill also mandates an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study to examine the impact of the pilot program on the quantity, quality, and distribution of primary care physicians compared to non-participants of the program.
"It's time for us to reduce the challenges those in rural America face when it comes to accessing quality health care. This legislation gives physicians an incentive to practice medicine in rural communities -- and as a result, it will be tremendously beneficial for the hospitals and residents in those areas. I look forward to joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this legislation to a vote on the House floor."