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Upstate Doctor Shortage Continues To Get Worse Every Year As More Doctors Retire & Upstate Hospitals Have Difficulty Recruiting New Physicians 63% of Hospitals Report Their Primary Care Capabilities Do Not Meet Patients Needs; Counties Across Upstate NY Hemorrhaging Primary Care Physicians

Schumer Pushes Legislation That Would Significantly Increase Physician-Training Residency Slots At NY Hospitals & Address Primary Care Doctor Shortage Across Upstate NY By Prioritizing Primary

Today, on a conference call with reporters, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer launched his campaign to pass legislation to address the growing shortage of doctors in Upstate New York, especially primary care physicians. Schumer cited that, over the past several years, Upstate New York hospitals have been experiencing a steady decline in the number of primary care physicians - at the same time as demand for health care has grown. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, New York State is only meeting 40% of its primary care needs, one of the lowest rates in the country, and 65% of rural communities reported that they do not have a sufficient number of doctors to serve their community. Schumer explained that his legislation -  The Resident Physician Shortage Act - would cut right to the heart of the problem by increasing the number of Medicaresupported physician training residency slots by 15,000 over the next few years, placing a special emphasis on giving slots to hospitals that serve rural areas that are experiencing physician shortages.


"We have tremendous doctors providing topnotch care all across Upstate New York, but we no longer have as many primary care physicians as we need," said Schumer. "Primary care physicians are our first line of defense in the world of medicine - they provide us with our annual checkup, they help our children grow into healthy young adults, and they are often the first phone call we make when we are feeling sick. Unfortunately, in Upstate New York, our hospitals and community health centers are losing these primary care physicians left and right, as many are beginning to age out of the profession, and they are unable to hire replacements at the same pace, as new doctors frequently choose to go into more lucrative specialty fields or gravitate to more urban areas."


Schumer continued, "That is why I am pushing to pass  The Resident Physician Shortage Act. It tackles the doctor shortage headon by opening up 15,000 new residency training slots nationwide and prioritizing those slots for people looking to practice primary care, particularly in areas where these doctors are most needed."


"Senator Schumer has long recognized and fought to relieve the growing physician shortage throughout New York State, particularly in rural and small upstate communities," explained Dennis Whalen, President of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS).  "We applaud the Senator's continued leadership in working to ensure more physicians can be trained to address this shortage headon, preserving patients' access to physician services."


Schumer's push comes amidst an increasing doctor shortage in Upstate New York, particularly in the field of primary care. According to a recent survey by the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS) titled, "Doctor Shortage: Outpatient and Primary Care Need Growing," 63% of New York State hospitals indicated that they did not have enough primary care physicians to meet their patients' needs. In addition, four out of five hospitals in New York State are attempting to hire more primary care physicians to fill the void, but the vast majority (69%) are having trouble hiring. According to the SUNY Center for Health Workforce Studies, in 2007, Upstate New York had the most difficulty recruiting new doctors than any other place in the country. As a result of this widespread primary care physician shortage, many hospitals have been forced to reduce and/or eliminate services.


Schumer noted that the need for primary care physicians is greater than ever before because many hospitals and community health centers have begun to place more of an emphasis on primary care as a way to cut down on longterm hospital stays and expensive procedures. In addition, as the baby boomer generation continues to age, Schumer explained, health care needs have increased. According to data from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), New York needs more than 1,100 primary care physicians to reverse the shortage. In total, according to a study by the SUNY Center for Health Workforce Studies, over three million New Yorkers do not have access to primary care, and that number does not even include those whose access has been limited due to a lack of physicians.


During the call, Schumer revealed data from the SUNY Center for Health Workforce Studies that clearly shows a decline in the number of primary care physicians (PCPs) across Upstate New York. According several health care organizations, including the American Association of Medical College, American Academy of Family Physicians and Health Leaders Media, a benchmark average for the appropriate number of PCPs per 100,000 people is about 80.


·          In the  Capital Region, according to a 2010 report by the Center for Health Workforce Studies at SUNY Albany, there were 76 Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) per 100,000 people, in 2013, there were 62.

·          In  Western New York, in 2010 there were 74 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 57.

·          In the  RochesterFinger Lakes Region, in 2010 there were 69 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 55.

·          In the  Southern Tier, in 2010 there were 77 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 69.

·          In  Central New York, in 2010 there were 71 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 66.

·          In the  Hudson Valley, in 2010 there were 87 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 73.

·          In the  North Country, in 2010 there were 73 PCPs per 100,000, in 2013, there were 60.


Schumer's legislation, the "Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act" (S. 577), introduced with Senators Bill Nelson (DFL) and Majority Leader Harry Reid (DNV), tackles this problem headon by boosting the number of physicians that complete their residency in areas, like Upstate New York, that are experiencing doctor shortages. Currently, Medicare provides funding for hospitals to host a specific number of residents at a given time through Graduate Medical Education (GME) funding. The legislation would allow Medicare to fund an additional 3,000 slots each year for five years, and priority must be given to hospitals serving areas that are experiencing a shortage of physicians.


Hospitals in states that emphasize training in community health centers, communitybased settings, or hospital outpatient departments would also receive preference when applying for additional support to host physician residents. Schumer noted that given New York's primary care physician shortage and its focus on community health centerbased care, the state would be wellpositioned to receive many of the slots the legislation would create.


The Schumer bill would enhance America's health care infrastructure by expanding the number of Medicaresupported physician residency training positions by 15%, or roughly 15,000. In 1997, the Balanced Budget Act froze the number of residents that a hospital could claim Medicare payment for, based on the number of residents that each hospital trained in 1996. Between 1980 and 2005, the nation's population grew by 70 million people-a 31 percent increase. By 2030, as baby boomers age, the number of Americans over age 65 will double from 35 million to 71 million. These changes will significantly increase the demand for physicians' services. Schumer said that, without his legislation, the number of GME funding would continue to be subject to an outdated cap.