Three members of New Jersey’s congressional delegation are pushing a bill to head off a shortage of doctors looming over the state and country.
During a press conference at the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, Sen. Bob Menendez and Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Bill Pascrell on Monday touted a bill that would rework decades-old Medicare caps on the number of residents hospitals are allowed to have.
“I commend Holy Name for working to invest in the physicians of the future, but under current law, if they restart their residency program, they’ll be subject to the same Medicare hiring caps imposed all the way back in 1996,” Menendez said. “It makes no sense. 1996 is not 2019. These caps have failed to keep pace with the demand for a larger physician workforce.”
New Jersey is expected to be short 2,800 doctors next year.
“A healthy nation builds its medical fleet, and right now we’re not doing that like we should be, even in a progressive state like ours. In fact, we’re approaching a crisis,” Pascrell said. “The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates a shortfall of up to 120,000 physicians nationwide. If that isn’t an urgent need, what is?”
Gottheimer, co-chair of the bi-partisan House Problem Solvers Caucus is introducing the bill, so it’s likely to garner some support from House Republicans.
Menendez said lawmakers wrote the bill to appeal to lawmakers in rural districts as well as in districts that more closely reflect New Jersey’s.
The senator said they planned to tie the bill onto an omnibus Medicare bill that lawmakers will be forced to vote on later this year.
“New Jersey is the 25th most-likely state to see a doctor shortage, so we have a problem. We know we need more doctors. We know it’s coming up, and New Jersey has a real problem, hasn’t been able to fill those slots,” Gottheimer said. “This is why we need to get more at Holy Name and other places.”