Harshbarger Leads Re-Introduction of the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act

WASHINGTON – Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Kim Schrier M.D. (D-WA), Don Bacon (R-NE), and Henry Cuellar (D-TX), re-introduced the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act (), bipartisan legislation that improves Medicare reimbursements and enhances the current structure of the Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) program to bring more medical residents and doctors to rural areas.

The Rural Physician Workforce Production Act:

  • Lifts the current caps on Medicare reimbursement payments to rural hospitals that cover the cost of taking on residents;
  • Allows Medicare to reimburse urban hospitals that send residents to train at rural health care facilities during a resident rotation;
  • Establishes a per-resident payment initiative to ensure rural hospitals have the resources to bring on additional residents.

“Having served as a pharmacist in East Tennessee for over 30 years, I understand the unique needs and challenges that face our rural communities. Rural regions struggle to recruit and retain physicians and other practitioners, resulting in a lack of access for patients and families,” said Rep. Harshbarger.“My bill will help make rural residency programs more attractive and sustainable as well as strengthen our rural physician pipeline. This is a practical solution to encourage doctors and other health professionals to train in underserved rural regions and keep their lifesaving talents in the areas that need it most."

“As a doctor, I understand the importance of being able to access timely care. In many parts of the 8th District, residents need to drive a long distance to visit their doctor. That’s why I am glad to be introducing this commonsense, bipartisan legislation to increase the number of health care providers in rural areas and alleviate physician shortages. This is an important step to increasing health care access for all 8th District residents,” said Rep. Schrier, M.D.

“The Rural Physician Workforce Production Act will be the shot in the arm that our rural healthcare systems need to better serve their populations. Americans are aware of the staff shortages nationwide in our healthcare systems, particularly in rural areas. This budget-neutral bill will bolster our rural health care providers so every patient can receive top quality care right at home," said Rep. Bacon

“Rural communities like South Texas deserve quality health care. The Rural Physician Workforce Production Act creates a pipeline of physicians for rural communities and attracts top talent where it’s needed most,” said Rep. Cuellar. “It’s common for South Texans to drive hundreds of miles away from home to get the care they need. I join my colleagues across the aisle in bringing a sensible, bipartisan solution to strengthen health care across rural America, and ensure the medical resources we need are available within our communities. Health care remains a priority of mine in Congress. This bill brings us one step further in bringing quality health care to South Texas.”

“The shortage of primary care physicians across the country, particularly in rural areas, must be addressed. That’s why the AAFP is pleased to endorse the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act, which will take concrete action to support rural residency training and alleviate physician shortages in rural communities. This legislation addresses health inequities by strengthening the physician workforce in communities that desperately need more physicians and would provide much needed federal support to incentivize residents to train in rural areas. This bill is a critical step toward stemming our national physician workforce shortage and ensuring patients have equitable access to timely and comprehensive care.” - Tochi Iroku-Malize, MD, MPH, MBA, FAAFP, President, American Academy of Family Physicians.

"Many osteopathic family physicians serve as the sole access point for critical health care services in the rural communities they serve, and they witness firsthand the challenges that rural Americans face in obtaining primary care services. We are grateful that Representatives Harshbarger and Schrier are leading the effort to increase access to primary care services in rural areas by introducing the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act of 2023 in the House. This legislation is essential in resolving the geographic maldistribution of primary care physicians by providing equitable access to care for patients in all areas of the country." -ACOFP President Bruce R. Williams, DO, FACOFP.

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger is a proud member of the House Rural Health Care Coalition, the Republican Doctors Caucus, and the Congressional Telehealth Caucus.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), Tine Smith (D-MN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Read more about S. 230 .

A coalition letter of support can be found .

Bill text can be found .

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://harshbarger.house.gov/media/press-releases/harshbarger-leads-re-introduction-rural-physician-workforce-production-act