Florida's GME investment adds 422 residency slots

The Governor's State Medicaid Residency Program and the legislature's new Graduate Medical Education Startup Bonus Program funded a substantial increase in residency position in Florida teaching and safety-net hospitals this year.

The state-run programs increased the number of residency positions from 3,951 to 4,373 in 2015 and added incentives to expand GME programs. Members of the Teaching Hospital Council of Florida and Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida plan to create even more slots, many of them in specialties facing the greatest shortage of physicians.

Officials with the Teaching Hospital Council and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance praised Gov. Rick Scott (R) and lawmakers for their leadership in addressing the statewide need.

"Florida's leaders clearly recognize that if we don't have enough doctors, we won't be able to meet the healthcare needs that our citizens deserve," said Carlos Migoya, president and CEO of Miami-based Jackson Health System and chairman of the board of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. "Training future doctors is a great investment in the overall health and well-being of our state."

In 2013, Gov. Scott and the legislature put $80 million in recurring state and federal funds toward graduate medical education to help hospitals serving Medicaid patients offset the expenses of physician training programs. In June, during the latest legislative session, lawmakers appropriated an additional $100 million in local and federal funds to create new slots and incentives for hospitals to expand their GME programs. The Graduate Medical Education Startup Bonus Program provides hospitals a one-time $100,000 bonus for every new residency slot created in specialty areas with a shortage.

The increased funding for more residency slots follows an IHS study commissioned by the Teaching Hospital Council and the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida published in February. The study found Florida faces a shortage of 7,000 specialists over the next decade, affecting all regions of the state and spanning various specialties. The largest areas of need are psychiatry, general surgery, rheumatology and thoracic surgery. The study also concluded where medical school graduates complete their residencies is the single greatest factor in determining where they will practice.

Of the 422 new slots, 139 were created by safety-net hospitals. Jackson Health System, Florida's largest teaching hospital, created 110 slots, the most of any hospital in the state.

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