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Rounds, Colleagues Urge Administration to Support Physician Training Programs in Rural Communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) joined a bipartisan group of senators in a letter to the administration to support physician training programs in rural communities. Such programs can strengthen and maintain a physician workforce for the future, especially in rural areas. In addition to Rounds, the letter was sent by U.S. Sens. 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.).


“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.”


“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.”