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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. ACS believes more accurate and actionable data is necessary to determine exactly what constitutes a surgical shortage area and where these areas exist.

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.

Lawmakers have introduced two bills aimed at supporting the physician workforce by addressing student debt associated with medical education. The Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act (S. 3658/H.R. 4122), introduced by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Boozman (R-AR) and Representatives Brian Babin, DDS (R-TX-36) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6), would allow borrowers in medical or dental internships or residency programs to defer student loan payments without interest until the completion of their programs. The Specialty Physicians Advancing Rural Care (SPARC) Act (S. 4330), introduced by Senators Rosen and Roger Wicker (R-MS), would establish a new loan repayment program allowing specialty physicians who agree to practice in a rural area for six years to have up to $250,000 of their student loans forgiven. These bills will alleviate some of the financial burden of medical education and help address ongoing health care provider shortages to ensure patients can access the care they need.

Take Action: Urge Your Members of Congress to Support the REDI Act and the SPARC Act

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 as it relates 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

The ACS strongly supports the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act, which would direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the HRSA, to study and define general surgery workforce shortage areas and collect data on the adequacy of access to surgical services. Additionally, it would grant the Secretary of HHS with the authority to establish a general surgery shortage area designation.

Take Action: Contact Congress in Support of the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act

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.

Keep Physicians Serving Patients

The ACS supports the Keep Physicians Serving Patients Act, which would improve the way geographic cost indices (GPCIs) are calculated to better support rural surgeons. Currently, GPCIs are calculated using inaccurate and outdated numbers that underestimate the cost of practicing in non-urban areas. This legislation improves that calculation and establishes a set minimum based on specific regions. This will ensure physicians are appropriately reimbursed for the care they provide as well as help to incentivize new talent to practice in rural settings.

Previous Congressional Efforts

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.

Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act

The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act seeks to bolster the U.S. surgical workforce and health care infrastructure by increasing the number of Medicare-supported residency positions nationally by 2,000 each year from 2023 through 2029, totaling 14,000 slots.

Take Action: Contact Congress in Support of the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act

Contact ACS Advocacy

If you have questions about ACS Advocacy,

please contact The ACS Advocacy team.