Capitol Update: Key House committee explores expansion of residency positions
Graduate medical education is the hot topic du jour of the House Appropriations Committee these days as two of its subcommittees held a joint hearing on Feb. 22 to explore ideas for increasing the number of residency positions available in Texas. The heightened attention on GME stems from a 2012 report from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board showing that while enrollment in Texas medical schools has grown by 31 percent since 2002, the number of first-year residency training positions has not kept pace.
This year, more medical students will graduate in Texas than the number of available first-year training positions in the state’s residency programs, and the projected trend rises from there. By 2016, Texas will produce 180 more medical school graduates than the amount of first-year residency positions available. Texas invests $168,000 in each medical school graduate, so when those graduating medical students leave to find training programs, Texas will lose an investment of more than $30 million in that year alone.
AAFP Past President Roland Goertz, M.D., M.B.A., provided testimony and presented a funding proposal designed to increase family medicine residency positions by 20 percent. Calling it the Texas Primary Care Two-step, Goertz explained that the first step must be the restoration of funding for existing family medicine residency positions, which was cut by almost 74 percent last session.
“Without stabilization of those funds, you’re not going to get very many of those programs to consider expansion of [residency positions] at all,” Goertz said.
Step two would invest in an incentive program to encourage residency programs to create new positions. The plan would fund each new position at $118,500 each year, which would cover the resident’s salary and benefits plus one-quarter of the cost of a faculty member.
Thanks to the Physicians of the Day
Spots still available through May
Thanks to the physicians who volunteered for the Physician of the Day program in the last several days: John Egerton, M.D., and Judith Egerton, M.D., of Austin; Rosanne Popp, M.D., of Houston; Michael Dominguez, M.D., of San Antonio; Jonathan MacClements, M.D., of Tyler; and Larry Kravitz, M.D., of Austin.
The Physician of the Day program brings a family physician to the Capitol each day of the legislative session to provide health care to members of the Capitol community. Dates are still available throughout the session. For more information on how to sign up and to view the calendar of open dates, go to the Physician of the Day page of the TAFP website.