Senator Tester Introduces Restoring Rural Residencies Act
Erin Mahn Zumbrun
The National Rural Health Association applauds Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for introducing S. 455, the Restoring Rural Residencies Act. This important bill will fix an unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act by defining Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) as “non-provider settings” solely for the purposes of Medicare reimbursements for graduate medical education. This will allow Medicare to reimburse residency programs for the time residents spend at CAHs.
This legislation will allow the expansion of rural residency rotations, increase the number of physicians training in rural communities, and encourage more physicians to practice in rural America. This small, but important, fix will allow more rural Americans to access the care they need.
Workforce shortages plague rural America. While 20 percent of the population resides in rural America, less than 10 percent of physicians practice in these communities. Physicians tend to practice in or near the communities in which they train, and smaller, community-based training sites produce the most primary care physicians. To address the physician shortage crisis in rural America, more physicians need to be trained in rural areas.