A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Medicare's Unsung Role in Medical Education

Did you realize that Medicare is a major sponsor of medical residency programs in teaching hospitals in the United States? I didn't. I'll bet you didn't either.

According to Elissa Fuchs of the Association of American Medical Colleges, Congress makes direct (DGME) and indirect (IME) payments to teaching hospitals to fund graduate medical education (GME) and defray the countless unattributable costs associated with treating the difficult medical cases such hospitals tend to attract. These facilities need state of the art equipment to do the tough jobs. They are research centers, leading the way in medical breakthroughs. And they are universities.

But gradual cuts in funding to Medicare for nearly fifteen years have been reducing the number of physicians being trained, causing a shortage of physicians. One can only wonder what the elimination of Medicare, as proposed by Representative Paul Ryan, would mean for the number of interns in our teaching hospitals and, by extension, new doctors.

The blogosphere has been hot on the immediate loss of care for the elderly, a grave concern with this ill-advised plan. But what about direct and indirect funding of medical students in our teaching hospitals? Will no one carry that torch?

We have great teaching hospitals in this country -- nearby in this state, in fact. What are you going to do to preserve your access to quality medical professionals? It's presently at risk.


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