American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Legislation to Address General Surgery Shortages Introduced in U.S. Senate

U.S. Sens. John Barasso, MD (R-WY), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (S. 2859) November 14. The legislation would direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a study to define and identify general surgery shortage areas. The legislation also would give the Secretary of HHS the authority to issue a formal general surgery shortage area designation based on the study’s results.

In light of growing evidence demonstrating a shortage of general surgeons, more research is necessary to determine what constitutes a surgical shortage area and where these areas exist. Determining where patients lack access to surgical services will provide HHS with valuable information to increase access to the full spectrum of high-quality health care services. Incentivizing general surgeons to locate or remain in communities with workforce shortages could be critical in guaranteeing all Medicare beneficiaries, regardless of geographic location, have access to quality surgical care.

A House version of the bill, H.R. 1814, was introduced earlier this year by Reps. Ami Bera, MD (D-CA); Larry Bucshon, MD, FACS (R-IN); Scott Peters (D-CA); and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). Senate introduction of this important legislation was a key priority at Capitol Hill meetings that took place in conjunction with the American College of Surgeons (ACS) 2019 Leadership and Advocacy Summit.

For more information on surgical workforce issues, contact Amelia Suermann, ACS Congressional Lobbyist at asuermann@facs.org.

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