Freshmen Democratic Reps. Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen held a press conference in Las Vegas Monday to announce that they are co-sponsoring a House bill intended to increase the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency positions to address the shortage of doctors.
The bill is the Resident Physician Shortage Act of 2017.
Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who Rosen has announced she will oppose in 2018, co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill on the day it was introduced in June. Republican Rep. Mark Amodei signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill a week before either Rosen or Kihuen.
Kihuen was quoted as saying after the press conference, “This is too important to get caught up in partisanship.” Now why would he say that?
“While the number of medical school graduates from Nevada’s universities continues to rise, the state does not currently have enough residency positions to keep pace with those graduates in Nevada,” said Heller back in June, as reported in a number of rural newspapers. “The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act increases the number of hospital residency positions available to address the doctor shortage, particularly in our rural communities, and improve the quality of care patients receive.”
Heller said this bill would increase the number of Medicare-supported hospital residency positions by 15,000 to address the coming shortage of doctors and to try to keep new graduates from Nevada’s medical schools in Nevada and rural Nevada in particular. Doctors often remain in the community where they go through their residency training.
According to a study released in March by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States is facing a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030, because the number of new physicians is not keeping pace with the demands of a growing and aging population. Though the population is expected to grow by 12 percent by 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to increase by 55 percent and the number of people aged 75 and older should grow by 73 percent.
According to AAMC data from 2014, Nevada ranked 47th among the states in the ratio of doctors to population. Nevada had 197.4 doctors per 100,000 population compared to 265.5 nationally.
Of course the impact of ObamaCare on the doctor shortage is being totally ignored. Back in 2013, then Republican Rep. and former emergency doctor Joe Heck said, “This bill (ObamaCare) has done nothing to increase access to health care. All it has tried to do is increase access to health insurance. Having insurance does not equate to having health care… So what is going to happen is you’re going to get a big influx of people who now have insurance. They’re going to call a doctor and ask for an appointment. And they’re going to be told, ‘We can see you in three to six months.’ And they’re going to say, ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to wait three to six months. I’ve got insurance now. Hmm, let me go to the emergency department.’”
Emergency rooms were already overcrowded, Heck noted.
Rosen and Kihuen are both ardent backers of ObamaCare.