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Schumer wants to increase number of doctors nationwide

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News file photo
Sen. Charles Schumer. (File photo)

Sen. Charles Schumer wants to increase the number of primary care physicians in the United States, particularly in rural areas like upstate New York.

Schumer says he is proposing a revised version of the "Resident Physician Shortage Act," which would increase the number of Medicare-supported physician residency slots by 15,000 over the next five years.

"It's aimed at allowing more residents to be trained," Schumer said. "In other words, it's increasing the number of slots that we give training to, where people get training. And it would curb the growing shortage, to boot. Half the slots are reserved for primary care, which has never happened before."

Schumer says by reserving so many slots for primary care physicians, it bolsters the number of those doctors that become available and helps fill spots vacated by the baby boomer generation's retirement.

"It's a great match for New York," Schumer said. "We're one of the states with the greatest shortages, but we're also one of the states with the greatest number of teaching hospitals, who can train people. Both downstate, where we have all the New York City hospitals and lots of those doctors locate upstate. But even more importantly, all our upstate hospitals."

The bill is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and there's a similar bill being considered in the House of Representatives. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges, there should be 80 physicians per 100,000 people.

Schumer says there aren't any regions in upstate New York that currently meet the criteria.