Medicare to cut payments to physicians, while medical schools get boost in Obama’s 2015 budget

March 5, 2014

President Barack Obama is including increased funding toward medical school programs for internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine in his 2015 budget proposal. But Medicare plans to cut payments to practicing physicians.

President Barack Obama is proposing increased funding toward medical school programs for internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine in his 2015 budget proposal.

In total, the funding would add $5.23 billion over 10 years to train primary care residents in underserved areas. The program aims to increase the primary care workforce by 13,000 doctors.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) released a statement requesting that Congress cooperate with Obama in order to decrease the growing need for primary care physicians in the United States.

“The proposal shows an understanding of the important role that primary care places in ensuring access to high quality and cost-conscious care. Studies show that the United States will need at least 40,000 more primary care physicians for adults by the end of the decade to meet current and anticipated demand,” says Molly Cooke, MD, FACP, president of ACP.

Obama’s proposal also aims to extend Medicaid parity payments for primary care physicians for another year at the cost of $5.44 billion. If it expires, Medicaid payments will drop at the end of 2014.

The president is also requesting $3.95 billion to increase the National Health Service Corps, which give scholarships and loan forgiveness to primary care physicians who commit to working in underserved communities for a period of time.

However, some organizations are critical of Obama’s cuts to teaching hospitals for doctor training and complex care. The proposal includes nearly $15 billion in cuts to those programs at a time where physician shortages continue to cripple healthcare, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

 

“These institutions already are supporting 10,000 residents per year above the federal residency training position cap, at a cost of more than $1 billion annually,” says Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and CEO of AAMC. “The administration’s proposed cuts would undermine the ability of teaching hospitals to train the next generation of doctors at a time when the AAMC estimates a shortage of 90,000 physicians-split evenly between primary care and specialty doctors-by the end of the decade.”

Obama decreased funding for Health and Human Services by 7.6% to $73.7 billion in his proposal, in aims of cutting $402 billion in the next 10 years from Medicaid and Medicare. The specifics of what programs will be cut within the two agencies have yet to be released by The White House. The 2015 budgets adds $25 million to monitor fraud in new Affordable Care Act programs, including healthcare insurance exchanges, over the next two years.

The Obama administration says that the 2015 $3.901 trillion budget’s tough cuts in agriculture, and tax increases to the wealthy will allow the country to focus on job training and education for the future. 

“This budget will also continue to put our fiscal house in order over the long-term - not by putting the burden on folks who can least afford it, but by reforming our tax code and our immigration system and building on the progress that we’ve made to reduce health care costs under the Affordable Care Act,” Obama said Tuesday morning while unveiling the budget.