Schumer, Crowley: need to train more docs

(Above, l-r) Kenneth Raske of the Greater New York Hospital Association; Dr. Allen Spiegel, dean of the AECOM; Senator Charles Schumer; Congressman Joseph Crowley; Dr. Steven Safyer, president and CEO of Montefiore Medical Center; and Dr. Philip Ozuah of The Children’s Hospital at the May 8 press conference. Photo by Victor Chu

New legislation was unveiled at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center on Friday, May 8 that would increase the amount of doctors in training, or “residents,” across the Bronx.

The new healthcare bill reverses a cap passed under the Balanced Budget Act in 1997 for Medicare reimbursements for training expenses of new “resident” doctors. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer and Congressman Joseph Crowley were on hand to announce that the new bill is now before Congress.

The legislation would increase doctor training by giving hospitals Medicare support for 400 additional resident doctors positions and be eligible to apply for an additional 5,000 positions across New York State. One out of six doctors nationwide are trained here.

If the bill were made law, it would greatly enhance Montefiore’s Bronx-based training programs for doctors at its Moses Campus and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“No health care reform effort will be complete or even adequate unless we address the shortage of doctors in this country,” Schumer said. “If we are going to insure more Americans, we will certainly need more physicians to treat them. This legislation will provide a common sense fix to the outdated cap on residency slots.”

Schumer said that an increase in the population of the country by 30 million people and the addition of new medical treatments that were not previously available now makes the cap especially grave for the health of the country.

Congressman Joseph Crowley also spoke at the press conference, where he said that medical institutions like Montefiore that are the largest employers in the Bronx and are the lifeblood of the borough. About 38% of the Bronx’s employees work in the health- care field. Nevertheless, he said the Bronx is underserved when it comes to making sure all people have access to medical treatments.

“Communities like the Bronx are suffering from severe physician shortages – putting health care basics such as regular check ups, advice on how to avoid chronic illness, and vaccinations, flu-shots, and blood pressure screening out of reach,” Crowley said.

Crowley said that Montefiore and other teaching hospitals’ ability to train doctors impressed him. Forty percent of Montefiore residents remain at the hospital, many in locations all over the Bronx.

“This critically important piece of legislation comes not a moment too soon,” said Allen Spiegel, M.D., dean of Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “I applaud Senator Schumer and Congressman Crowley for understanding the importance and taking action to expand residency training slots.”

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