Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of Sb 608, Sb 626, and Sb 636 Before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing

Testimony in Support of Sb 608, Sb 626, and Sb 636 Before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing

The Massachusetts Medical Society wishes to be recorded in support of several bills that will help assure that patients have access to primary care physicians in all parts of the Commonwealth. Together, these bills promote a pipeline of highly trained primary care physicians through the entire continuum of the retention process, from start (including funding primary care physician GME programs) to finish (finding innovative loan repayment strategies for physicians working in community health centers.) In particular, the Medical Society supports the following bills as detailed below:

Senate bill 608, An Act relative to the primary care workforce development and loan repayment grant program at community health centers

The Medical Society strongly supports S. 608 which would continue a successful loan repayment program that is essential to the recruitment and retention of primary care physicians and other clinicians at community health centers. The average medical student now carries over $160,000 in student after years of medical school residencies, and fellowships. This often forces young physicians to make a difficult decision upon completion of their training about where to begin their professional careers as attending physicians. Young physicians often must weigh altruistic ideals with practical realities when deciding between lower paying jobs in communities of need and higher paying jobs in other settings. Repayment programs help many young physicians take jobs at community health centers—providing the care that they long aspired to in medical training—in manners that allow them to pay their loans and begin their life post-training.

Most importantly, S. 608 will benefit patients by ensuring an ample pipeline of primary care physician and other clinicians at community health centers which provide such vital services to so many communities that have historically had challenges accessing primary care. The Medical Society strongly supports S 608 as an important means of assuring the highest quality of care in communities served by FQHC clinics.

Senate bill 626, An Act to promote graduate medical education
Senate bill 636, An Act to improve access to family physicians

The Medical Society strongly supports each of these bills which would help fund graduate medical education programs for primary care and family medicine (S.636) and primary care, behavioral health, and other physician shortages (S.626). The Medical Society continues to believe that the best means by which to address concerns of access to primary care is by training more physicians in the Commonwealth. Physicians not only provide exemplary primary care but they can also lead teams of multiple layers of health care providers to efficiently provide team-based health care. Community health centers have long been settings of excellence of team-based care, so graduate medical education programs in these settings allow family physicians and other primary care physicians in training to learn primary care in models of the future. In addition, non-hospital based residency programs help promote tomorrow’s physicians to be trained in the community rather than at hospitals. Diversity of residency settings is important to ensure that physicians continue to seek primary care jobs across practice settings, especially in light of access to care challenges for populations served by community health centers.  

The MMS urges the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing to report S.608, S.626, and S. 636 out of Committee favorably.

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