Letter to Lawmakers: Graduate Medical Education (GME) is an essential tool that Michigan needs to train, attract, and retain medical professionals
I write you today on behalf of the approximately 150 community and health advocacy organizations that comprise the Michigan Consumers for Healthcare (MCH) coalition that is dedicated to greater consumer access to affordable, accessible, and high-quality medical care. We believe such care will be severely compromised if the Legislature continues to entertain budget proposals that would cut funding from our state’s Gradual Medical Education programs.
Graduate Medical Education (GME) is an essential tool that Michigan needs to train, attract, and retain medical professionals. During a time when nationwide shortages of physicians are growing, it is unthinkable that the state would embrace a budget and policy position that would reduce the pool of qualified physicians—especially primary care providers—or encourage those with medical education to leave the state because they cannot find essential training opportunities here. Experience and research shows that medical professionals often remain where they are trained. Our failure to provide adequate GME-funded training for medical professionals in Michigan today virtually ensures that we will face accelerated/exacerbated physician shortages tomorrow. Your constituents will pay the ultimate price for this short-sighted action through reduced access to medical care.
Numerous Michigan counties, especially in rural areas, already lack access to essential services due to physician shortages and inadequate support for medical training. As the state makes smart, large-scale investments in new medical schools throughout Michigan, it is inconceivable that lawmakers would couple that strategy with GME cuts that will leave Michigan medical school graduates with fewer training opportunities once they graduate, and little choice but to leave our state for others that do fund GME programs in accordance with their population’s needs. Michigan taxpayers, who foot part of the bill for every Michigan medical student’s education, now stand to lose on their investment if GME is cut.
Michigan lawmakers have, over the years, come together and given bipartisan support to the commonsense investment in medical professionals that GME provides. This is demonstrated by the recently passed supplemental appropriation restoring most of the reduction in FY2012 program funding. Reinstating program cuts in FY2013 makes little fiscal sense. In addition, it is important to recognize that with Michigan’s favorable federal matching rate, every state dollar disinvested results in $3 in program funding reductions due to the loss of $2 in federal funding.
As our population ages and increasingly prevalent chronic health conditions require more medical resources than ever before, the need for more physicians and medical professionals will only grow. We call upon lawmakers to recognize these stark realities and give bipartisan support for a robust GME program that will help the people of Michigan access the medical care they need, today and in the future.