Graduate Medical Education

A debate continues over the size and scope of federal subsidies to support residency training of the nation’s physicians.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is the single largest funder of graduate medical education (GME). This is the training that medical school graduates receive as residents in more than 1,000 of the nation’s hospitals, known as “teaching” hospitals. These trainees are a key part of the labor supply at these hospitals.

Now, amid efforts to reduce federal spending, these GME monies face possible reductions and other changes. The Obama administration and some members of Congress want to cut back on GME funding. Many hospitals, medical schools, and medical associations are opposed, and they actually want to increase funding and residency slots to train more doctors. Besides the costs of the public subsidies to medical education, other issues at stake include whether or not the nation is training enough doctors or other health professionals, and what the impact would be of increased accountability for the subsidies.

This Health Policy Brief provides background on graduate medical education funding and delineates the arguments on various sides of the debate.