Physician Shortages Would be Addressed with McCaskill-backed Bill

Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act would loosen caps on graduate medical training, residency slots

WASHINGTON – Physician shortages would be addressed in legislation backed by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to loosen caps on the number of Medicare-backed graduate medical training slots for physicians completing their studies through hospital-based internship, residency and fellowship programs.  

“If we’re going to get serious about tackling serious public health epidemics like opioid addiction and the mental health crisis in this country, we’re going to need more well-trained doctors,” McCaskill said. “ This commonsense legislation would help us get more qualified doctors in the pipeline in our most needed specialties—addressing looming shortages and helping lower wait times for patients.”

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act would increase the number of Medicare-backed medical residents by 3,000 each year from 2017 to 2021, with priority given to hospitals affiliated with Veterans Health Administration medical centers, and hospitals that emphasize training in community-based settings. The legislation would open federal funding opportunities for hospitals to train physicians in areas where there is a specialist treatment shortage, such as psychiatry.

Physician shortages were raised with McCaskill during her recent series of events across Missouri with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack focused on efforts to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. McCaskill and Vilsack’s events highlighted recent federal legislation she successfully shaped to open up resources to local and county Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs—and to challenged state legislators in Jefferson City to “finally get off their hands and take action to protect Missouri families.”

McCaskill is leading efforts to address medical workforce shortages at the VA with the Delivering Opportunities for Care and Services for Veterans Act, which has been endorsed by the VA Secretary and recently cleared a key Senate committee hurdle. The legislation would eliminate red tape that hinders reform and impacts care, and helps create initiatives to better leverage the VA workforces—as well as builds on the reforms enacted into law last year through the Veteran’s Access, Choice, and Accountability Act.

Visit to see more about McCaskill’s work to curb the opioid epidemic.