Reps. O’Halleran and Harshbarger Introduce Rural Physician Workforce Production Act

On July 26, Reps. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) introduced the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act of 2022, following companion legislation introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 27, 2021. While the bill has the support of several provider groups, ACOFP was instrumental in securing the bill’s introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives, and ACOFP President Bruce R. Williams, DO, FACOFP, released a statement in support of the bill.

The bill aims to improve Medicare reimbursement and enhance the Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) program to help bring additional medical residents and doctors to rural communities, lifting the cap on Medicare reimbursement to rural hospitals that cover the cost of resident positions and allowing Medicare to reimburse urban hospitals that send their residents to complete a clinical rotation at a rural healthcare facility. The legislation also creates a per-resident payment mechanism to ensure rural hospitals have the resources to open more residency positions. 

“Many osteopathic family physicians serve as the sole access point for critical healthcare services in the rural communities they serve, and they witness firsthand the challenges that rural Americans face in obtaining primary care services,” Dr. Williams said. “We are grateful that Reps. O’Halleran and Harshbarger are leading the effort to increase access to primary care services in rural areas by introducing the Rural Physician Workforce Production Act of 2021 in the House of Representatives. 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.”