O’Halleran, McKinley, Kind, Wenstrup Introduce Bill to Bring Doctors to Rural Areas

August 6, 2021
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK – Today, during a Pro Forma session of Congress, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) led a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce the Rural Medical Residency Expansion Act, a bill that would support rural and tribal teaching hospitals that train doctors in rural areas to better recruit and retain talented medical professionals. The bill is co-led by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV-01), Ron Kind (D-WI-03), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH-02).

The bill establishes a $100 million grant program that can be used by rural medical facilities to either develop a new medical residency training program or expand an existing medical residency training program. These funds are critical for lower-resourced rural medical centers because Medicare does not start supporting residency programs until the resident begins their training, meaning rural health centers must pay out of pocket for startup costs.

“Far too often, I hear from Arizonans who are forced to travel hundreds of miles to receive even basic medical care, let alone see a specialist or receive maternal care,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Studies have shown that doctors are more likely to stay and practice in areas where they study. My bill will increase opportunities for medical students to participate in residency programs in rural, tribal, and underserved areas, and remain there as doctors.”

“Rural communities all across America, and especially in West Virginia, have long had difficulties in attracting doctors. We need to do more to ensure these communities have the same access to quality care available in larger cities,” said Rep. McKinley. “The Medical Residency bill will address this by providing the funding to develop or expand residency training programs in rural areas, and by doing so create opportunities for better healthcare for all corners of the country.”

"Wisconsinites should be able to get health care where they are, but unfortunately too many rural communities have trouble recruiting and retaining physicians," said Rep. Kind. "This bipartisan bill will help address these shortages by expanding training opportunities for the next generation of doctors in our rural communities so that Wisconsinites have the medical professionals they need to stay healthy and strong."

Eligible entities include:

  • Teaching hospitals in rural areas
  • Critical Access Hospitals
  • Sole Community Hospitals
  • Rural Emergency Hospitals
  • Eligible entities for the HRSA Rural Residency Planning and Development Program, which also includes some FQHCs in rural areas.

Today’s legislation builds upon O’Halleran’s GME Amendment to the Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019. View full text of the legislation HERE.