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Schumer. Goldfeder: Vitally-needed Medical Education Training Slots coming to St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway

Posted on February 17, 2012


Thanks To Push From Schumer, New Law Allowed For Medicare To Fund Additional Resident Physician Positions At New York Hospitals – St. John’s Episcopal Hospital Will Now Be Eligible For Medicare Funding For An Additional 24 Residents

New Slots Help St. John’s Bottom Line and Fights Back Against Looming Crisis Of Doctor Shortages With Physician Population Aging

Schumer, Goldfeder: This Will Help St. John’s Hospital’s Bottom Line and Train High-Quality Docs

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer and Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder today announced they helped secure an additional 24 Medicare-funded, resident physician slots for St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway. Federal law limits the number of Medicare-funded resident slots at hospitals across the country, but Far Rockaway became eligible for additional slots following recent hospital closures in New York. The slots will allow Medicare to fund additional physicians to train at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, ensuring that Queens and Nassau Counties have access to highly-qualified physicians in the face of physician shortages throughout the state. In the next round of closed slot awards, the hospital plans to seek additional slots and believes they meet the criteria and have the high demand for additional positions.

“Ensuring that we have talented and capable physicians at hospitals across the state is essential to providing quality health care,” said Schumer. “This is going to be a big boost to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital medical education program and its bottom line – and will help combat the growing doctor shortage problem. I look forward to working closely with the hospital to help Queens and Nassau provide even more training opportunities for today’s residents and tomorrow’s health experts.”

"I want to thank Senator Schumer for his leadership and advocacy in securing new funding to establish additional resident physician positions at St. John's Episcopal Hospital," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "It is essential that St. John's is able to attract and retain well trained doctors who can provide quality healthcare to the people of the Rockaways. St. John's continues to make significant improvements and the addition of new resident physicians will reassure parents and families in Rockaway and southern Queens that quality healthcare is not too far away ."

St. John’s Episcopal Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Nelson E. Toebbe said, “We are very pleased that St. John’s Episcopal Hospital will be the recipient of an additional 24 residency training slots. It will provide an opportunity to augment our current residency allocation of 136 positions. This will enable the Hospital to grow programs in psychiatry and emergency medicine and improve the quality of its current residency program offerings in dermatology, family practice, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, ophthalmology, physical medicine and rehabilitation, surgery, and podiatry. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s efforts to address the shortage of physicians and its serious impact upon the health of the residents of Queens and Nassau Counties.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently awarded New York teaching hospitals increases to their Medicare direct graduate medical education (GME) and indirect medical education (IME) funding, known as “slots”, thanks to the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. These slots will help boost the physician population in Queens and Nassau County, as many doctors wind up practicing close to the physical location where they completed their residency.

The Affordable Care Act included an important provision that established a process to permanently preserve the Medicare funded residency slots from teaching hospitals that close. Previously, slots from closed hospitals could not be “returned’ to the pool to be distributed to hospitals training residents over their Medicare allotted cap. To remedy this, the Affordable Care Act directed CMS to create a pool based on the number of Medicare slots associated with the closed teaching hospitals’ direct GME and IME caps. This pool of direct GME and IME slots was to be redistributed, giving priority to hospitals located in the same or contiguous core-based statistical area as the closed hospital, and that met other criteria. As a result, St. John’s Hospital will receive new medical education funding and ensure that the Queens teaching slots are not lost to other states.

There are 134 accredited, allopathic medical schools and approximately 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems in the U.S. that education and prepare the next generation of physicians. New York State is home to many of the nation’s most prestigious academic medical centers and community teaching hospitals, making our state one of the world’s premier centers for medical excellence. St. John’s Episcopal Hospital supplies high quality patient care and vital community services, and provides a fertile environment to train the doctors needed in the years to come.

Medical schools and teaching hospitals are also major economic engines for their communities and the national economy. A recent study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges found that accredited medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems employed over 1,861,549 individuals and generated $512.3 billion in 2008. New York medical schools and teaching hospitals had the largest effect in dollars, with more than $69 billion generated.

Previously, federal Medicare law placed an outdated cap on the number of residents New York hospitals and hospitals across the country are able to train without being penalized millions in Medicare funding. In 1997, the Balanced Budget Act froze the number of residents that a hospital could claim Medicare payment for, based on the number of residents that each hospital employed in 1996 and the cap has not changed since despite dramatic growth in the nation's population. The Affordable Care Act created a process to redistribute slots from closed hospitals, a first step to training more physicians and resulting in St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway securing the additional slots that they received today.

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