Durbin, Duckworth Announce CMS Funding to Address Physician Shortage in Illinois

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has awarded new Medicare Graduate Medical Education funding to support an additional 23 residency slots for hospitals in Illinois. With this new federal funding, eight Illinois hospitals will be able to expand their medical training opportunities for new doctors, in order to help address the nation’s physician shortage. 

“This federal funding is a commitment to cultivating the next generation of health care professionals who will play a pivotal role in safeguarding the well-being of our communities,” said Durbin. “The expansion of residency slots will not only address our medical workforce shortages, but also will ensure these new doctors are equipped with the diverse skills and perspectives needed to navigate the complexities of modern health care.”

“Doctors and health professionals across Illinois do so much to keep their communities healthy—they deserve to have the resources they need to continue delivering high quality care,” said Duckworth. “I'm proud to announce this funding that will not only help improve health outcomes throughout Illinois and provide career opportunities, but also help address our state’s physician shortage.”

It is estimated that the United States will face a shortage of up to 124,000 physicians over the next decade, in part stemming from the strains caused by the pandemic. These workforce shortages harm patient access to care and exacerbate racial and ethnic health disparities.  These new federally funded residency slots are part of the initial investment made by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

The following Illinois institutions have been awarded funding to support additional residency slots:

  • OSF St. Francis Medical Center, Peoria
  • University of Chicago, Chicago
  • Carle Foundation, Urbana
  • Swedish Hospital, Chicago
  • Rush University Hospital, Chicago
  • University of Illinois, Chicago
  • OSF Little Company of Mary, Cook County
  • UW Health SwedishAmerican, Rockford

Durbin authored a provision in the American Rescue Plan to invest $1 billion into the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), which funds scholarships and loan repayment for new doctors, nurses, dentists, and behavioral health clinicians who commit to serve in rural and urban areas of need. Medical professionals can graduate with student debt of more than $200,000, which can discourage them from pursuing these careers in the first place, or lead to them choosing to practice in high-paying specialties or in more affluent and urban areas. The NHSC program helps build the pipeline of new health providers and surge them to shortage areas. Today, Illinois has nearly 1,000 health professionals serving under the NHSC program. 

In March, Durbin and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Restoring America’s Health Care Workforce and Readiness Act, which will reauthorize and increase funding for NHSC. Additionally, Durbin and U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced the Rural America Health Corps Act to test a new NHSC pilot, in which clinicians going to rural areas would receive $200,000 of loan repayment with a five-year commitment, rather than the traditional $50,000 of loan repayment for two years.