CMS rule will fund 1,000 Medicare residency slots to address workforce shortages

CMS issued a final rule Dec. 17 that will fund 1,000 additional medical residency positions in hospitals serving rural and underserved communities. 

CMS said it will phase in 200 new Medicare-funded physician residency slots per year over a five-year period. The first 200 slots will be announced Jan. 31, 2023, and will prioritize training programs in areas designated as health professional shortage areas, CMS said. 

Additionally under the final rule, rural teaching hospitals are eligible to receive an increase in the cap on the number of residents they can train. 

The final rule aims to close the health equity gap in rural communities, which often experience healthcare workforce shortages. 

The policy is part of CMS' final inpatient prospective payment system for 2022. 

The addition of these slots, mandated by Congress earlier this year, is the largest expansion of the Graduate Medical Education program in more than 25 years, CMS said.

CMS estimates it will invest $1.8 billion over the next 10 years to fund the program.

"Doctors are most likely to practice in the areas where they do their residencies. Having additional residents train in the very areas that need the most support can not only bolster the numbers of providers in these underserved areas, but also train them with a unique understanding of the specific needs of these communities," said Meena Seshamani, PhD, MD, director of CMS' Center for Medicare.

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