Acknowledging the already limited number of graduate medical education positions and the continued threat that the federal government will cut more of them in coming years, the AOA House passed a resolution and policy paper yesterday calling for states to explore alternate sources of GME funding.
“We need to develop more programs to help educate our students as they come out of the osteopathic medical schools,” says AOA Trustee Joseph A. Giaimo, DO, the chair of the AOA’s Bureau of State Government Affairs. “And one of the biggest problems with finding programs and developing programs is funding them. We want to help our affiliates and state organizations work with states to develop programs to attract student physicians to communities that need them.”
The policy paper outlines a number of additional GME funding models, such as the AOA’s Physician Education Advancing Community Health (PEACH) program, whereby health insurers pay into the health care system to help fund GME positions. Maryland and New York have systems similar to the PEACH program.
Another example is the education model, in which a program sponsor donates funds to an institution such as a university, which is then responsible for allocating the money and securing GME positions. An alternate version of this model would attach funds to medical students, similar to a voucher system, that follow them wherever they do their residency.
Dr. Giaimo says that states may consider working with businesses that are seeking to hire physicians with specific skill sets. For instance, a global company with offices in tropical countries may be interested in funding physicians to develop expertise in tropical medicine.
“This would be an opportunity to partner with a company and ask its leaders, ‘What training do you want your physicians to have? What are the skill sets you want your physicians to have?’ ” says Dr. Giaimo, a delegate from Florida.
What works in one state may not work in another, Dr. Giaimo says, which is why the policy provides several options to consider.
Montana delegate Donald A. Grewell, DO, says he appreciates the AOA’s efforts to assist states in solving problems, including GME funding, locally.
“Many issues are solved on a more local level,” Dr. Grewell says. “Things may differ from state to state. It makes great sense to try to help states determine what makes sense for them when it comes to looking for other sources of money.”
As the executive director of the Montana Osteopathic Medical Association, Dr. Grewell says his organization may try to implement some of the strategies outlined in the policy paper.
“Part of our uniqueness is our rural setting,” he says. “Smaller hospitals are looking to attract physicians and receive financial help with their education.”