A bipartisan, geographically diverse group of House members have reintroduced legislation to bolster the physician workforce on the frontlines of the opioid crisis. The Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 2439) would fund 1,000 additional residency positions in hospitals that already have or are in the process of establishing approved residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management.

GNYHA, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), and Congressional staff worked together to develop this legislation and will partner to gain support for the bill.

GNYHA is grateful to the lawmakers who introduced the bill: Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL), Susan Brooks (R-IN), Ann Kuster (D-NH), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY). Representative Stefanik continues to be a strong supporter of New York hospitals, and GNYHA appreciates her efforts.

The lack of health care professionals trained in the specialties needed to deal with the opioid crisis is symptomatic of the failure of Congress to adequately raise caps on Medicare-reimbursed residency slots in teaching hospitals. The Balanced Budget Act (BBA) of 1997 imposed the caps, which are a significant contributing factor to the nation’s worsening physician shortage. The AAMC projects that demand for physicians in both primary and specialty care will outpace supply by up to 121,900 physicians by 2032. Any plan to address the physician shortage will require the raising of these outdated caps. GNYHA supports both the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 and the bipartisan Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2019 (H.R. 1763 & S. 348), which would increase the number of Medicare-reimbursed residency slots by 15,000 over five years.