Sen. Rounds signs bipartisan letter to support physician training programs in rural communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to preserve rural physician training programs, a bipartisan group of senators that included Senator Mike Rounds, signed a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Alex M. Azar II.

U.S. Senators that included:

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), came together to ask Secretary Azar to resolve issues of the impact that COVID-19 has had on rural physician training.

“While HHS has taken important steps to shore up the health care system, rural physician training is at risk,” wrote the senators. “Rural hospitals have been significantly impacted by revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and without federal action, we are concerned that some may be forced to discontinue their physician training programs to remain open.”

In the letter, Rounds and his colleagues asked that immediate resources that add up to approximately $100 million from the Provider Relief Fund, which was established in CARES Act funding, be committed to rural hospitals that continue to maintain their current residency training programs.

“We urge you to commit immediate resources from the Provider Relief Fund to rural hospitals that maintain their current residency training programs,” they continued. “This will help rural hospitals currently training residents who are likely to go into rural practice, often near their training site, and who supply a significant portion of the future workforce serving those hospitals. The proposed, targeted payment is not a substitute GME payment, but rather an incentive payment to a rural hospital that commits to maintaining its current training program. The payment would be determined by the number of resident positions; however, it is not a payment for residency education. A rural hospital which serves as the primary location of training of greater than 50% of residents’ time, would receive the bonus payments upon agreeing to maintain its training program(s) for the next three academic years.”

The full letter is available below.

20200717 FINAL_Rural Provider Training Programs.


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