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Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

Become a Member
Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

Membership Benefits
ACS
Advocacy

Surgical Workforce

Increasing evidence indicates a current and growing shortage of surgeons. This is a critical component of the crisis in healthcare because only surgeons are uniquely trained and qualified to provide certain necessary, lifesaving procedures.

Supporting the Physician Workforce by Addressing Student Loan Debt

Surgery is an essential element in the care of a community or region. In areas with an insufficient surgical workforce, patients in need of care must travel to a place with surgical capabilities, leading to delays in care and potentially suboptimal outcomes. A 2021 report released by the American Association of Medical Colleges projects shortages of 15,800-30,200 in all surgical specialties by 2034. The high cost of medical education contributes to this ongoing physician shortage. Physicians often accumulate immense student debt during their education, and then must undertake several years of residency training with low pay, during which time their student loans accrue significant interest. This financial burden poses a barrier for students wishing to pursue certain specialties, practice in underserved areas, or even enter the health care profession at all. ACS supports legislative efforts to reduce the burden of student loan debt on physicians. 

Ensuring Access to General Surgery

As part of a multi-pronged effort to address workforce shortages, ACS successfully secured language in the FY 2019 appropriations bill that directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), via Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), to study access to general surgeons by underserved populations. In addition to the study, HRSA was directed to provide a report detailing potential surgical shortages, especially related to geographic location (i.e., rural, urban, and suburban). This congressionally mandated report released in 2020 found a maldistribution of the surgical workforce, with widespread and critical shortages of general surgeons particularly in rural areas. ACS believes that the current data highlights an urgent need to establish a surgical shortage designation. Having a surgical shortage designation will allow for better resource allocation and incentives to practice in areas where we know there are not enough general surgeons.

HRSA General Surgeon Projection Report

Reauthorization of the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a Medicare incentive payment program for major surgical procedures provided in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) to increase and improve access to high-quality surgical care in rural and underserved areas. This initiative, called the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program (HSIP), provided a payment incentive to surgeons who performed major operations—defined as those with a 10-day or 90-day global period under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule—in a geographic HPSA. HPSAs are geographic areas that lack sufficient numbers of physicians to meet the health care needs of an area or population. HPSAs are designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The HSIP program expired in 2015.

The American College of Surgeons urges Congress to reauthorize the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program for a period of five years. A five-year reauthorization of the HSIP will provide general surgeons, who are a key element of rural, frontline care, with the additional support they need to recover after the crisis and continue serving rural communities.

Graduate Medical Education

The ACS maintains that broad reforms to the way in which Graduate Medical Education (GME) is funded and administered are long overdue and necessary to ensure that that we are able to produce a physician workforce capable of meeting the needs of our nation’s population. The ACS believes solutions must be flexible, nimble, patient-centric and, most importantly, evidenced-based. In order to preserve the innovation and excellence for which our country’s medical system is known, GME should continue to be supported as a public good. The ACS has developed a set of principles on GME reform and used them to formulate a policy and position paper. The ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) intends to use these principles and the policy and position paper to advocate for reforms that are based on documented workforce studies and will result in building an optimal health care workforce.

Contact ACS Advocacy

If you have questions about ACS Advocacy,

please contact The ACS Advocacy team.