New legislation that aims to reduce federal funding for physician training could have a negative impact on medically underserved communities, including the Central Valley, said Congressman Dennis Cardoza, who opposed the legislation Tuesday.
H.R. 1216 would cut about $220 million in funding of graduate-level medical training over the next 10 years. It would directly impact the Valley Consortium for Medical Education in Modesto, which was designated a 2011 Teaching Health Center by the federal government and has already received $625,000 to begin training primary care medical and dental residents. The Valley Consortium is eligible for up to five years of funding provided through the Affordable Care Act passed last year, but H.R. 1216 could put that funding at risk.
“Countless studies have demonstrated a serious and growing shortage of health professionals facing the United States— most critically a shortage of primary care physicians, dentists, and other specialties,” Cardoza said. “With an existing shortage well established and an ageing population, our country desperately needs investments in the health care workforce, not rescissions.”
Cardoza offered an amendment requiring a study of the impact that eliminating the funding would have on the number of physicians trained by this program.
“In California’s San Joaquin Valley, there are already less than 87 primary care physicians for every 100,000 patients,” Cardoza said on the House floor. “The doctor/patient ratio in my region is not getting better. It is getting worse…. All eight counties in the San Joaquin Valley have been designated as ‘Medically Underserved’ by the Department of Health and Human Services, including Merced, Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Madera, and Fresno Counties.
“Studies have shown that the most effective way to attract and retain new doctors in underserved areas is to allow medical students to complete their residency program in the communities that are in need. Without these critical investments, the lack of care will most certainly have a costly price on the health and well-being of many rural underserved communities, including those I represent.”
A House vote down party-lines defeated Cardoza’s amendment.