Last week, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced the Doctors of Community (DOC) Act, which would, if enacted, permanently authorize and fund the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. The legislation would also expand THCGME and support the development of 100 new residency programs and create an estimated 1,600 new residency slots, the largest residency expansion since 1997.
On Monday, New Jersey family physician Ira Monka, DO, an AOA Trustee, spoke at a Facebook Live event hosted by Congressman Pallone to promote the legislation.
“[Congressman Pallone’s] efforts to increase funding for graduate medical education this past year will help grow the primary care physician workforce and improve patient access to care,” Dr. Monka said. “Forty percent of physicians in rural and underserved areas are osteopathic physicians, and more than 20% of physicians currently training in THCGME programs are DOs. The DOC Act will provide new and greater access to physician-led health care and support additional access for patients in medically underserved and rural communities.”
THCGME program funding is currently set to expire in 2023. The DOC Act will provide over $500 million per year from 2024-2033 as well as a permanent authorization of funding after 2034, according to a legislation fact sheet.