Gardner leads bipartisan request for HHS to fund rural physician training programs

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) recently led several colleagues in urging U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to support physician training programs in rural communities.

“As you continue to address the provision of healthcare during the COVID-19 public health emergency, we ask that the HHS resolve COVID-related rural physician training issues,” wrote Sen. Gardner and a bipartisan contingent of lawmakers in a July 29 letter sent to Secretary Azar.

To address this concern, the lawmakers asked that Azar release approximately $100 million in targeted funding from the Provider Relief Fund established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to fund rural hospitals that train physicians and commit to maintaining training programs for at least three years.

“While HHS has taken important steps to shore up the healthcare system, rural physician training is at risk,” the member wrote. “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.”

Among the lawmakers who joined Sen. Gardner in signing the letter were U.S. Sens. Michael Rounds (R-SD) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who wrote that the federal funding would be an incentive payment.

“The payment would be determined by the number of resident positions; however, it is not a payment for residency education,” Sen. Gardner and his colleagues wrote. “A rural hospital which serves as the primary location of training of greater than 50 percent of residents’ time, would receive the bonus payments upon agreeing to maintain its training program(s) for the next three academic years.”

This action will help provide needed care to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, they wrote, and help maintain a physician workforce for the future.


By: Ripon Advance News Service

Ripon Advance