Budget cuts could reduce health care in the U.S. - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Budget cuts could reduce health care in the U.S.

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Amarillo, TX -- Our nation progresses from one fiscal deadline to the next, medical experts are warning budget cuts could mean fewer doctors for a growing population.

The American Medical Association says if Medicare funding is cut on March 1st, schools won't be able to produce enough graduates to meet the needs of a growing and graying population.

Some Medicare funding is used to pay for residency training positions for medical school graduates.  And the number of Medicare-funded positions has been capped at the same level since 1997, when the Balanced Budget Act was enacted.  Now the AMA And medical schools are concerned if that cap isn't lifted, funding cuts could be disastrous.

"With the budgetary constraints, not only do we get an increase in the cap, but we get a cut in the funding," says Texas Tech Health Sciences Center Regional Dean Dr. Richard M. Jordan says.

And American Medical Association President Dr. Jeremy Lazarus says lifting the cap is vital to meeting the health care needs of our country, saying, "We're just concerned that unless the current number of graduate medical education, or residency slots, are maintained - and in addition to that, increased - we're going to be running smack-dab into a physician shortage."

On a national level, medical schools are increasing their enrollment to create enough health care providers for an aging baby boomer population. And if there are less residency positions available, there will ultimately be less providers.

"It's increasingly more of an issue because we're expanding the number of medical students," says TTUHSC's Dr. Jordan, "That's been mandated that the medical students be increased, but if we don't have graduate medical positions for them to go into, it really does us no good."

Under this scenario, the American Medical Association predicts the nation will see a doctor shortage within two years.  The AMA is actively lobbying Washington to lift the cap and spare Medicare from the fiscal chopping block.

If you'd like to get involved, you can find out how by following the links attached to this story.