The 2016-17 state budget took another step forward late last week, and so did one of TMA’s legislative priorities. The House-Senate Conference Committee on the budget approved $53 million for graduate medical education (GME) expansion grants over the biennium, up from the current $14.3 million. This includes:
- $3.5 million for GME planning and partnership grants;
- $32.55 million for creating new first-year GME positions at $75,000 per resident per year. Of that amount, $12 million is specifically for new GME positions that prepare physicians for entry into primary care practices;
- $9.75 million to maintain unfilled first-year GME positions; and
- $7.2 million for continued grant support to residency positions that were created with state grants during this budget cycle.
The committee also appropriated $4 million in additional dollars for existing family medicine residency programs (a 31-percent increase over current funding) and $3 million to revitalize the Statewide Primary Care Preceptorship Program.We are extremely disappointed that our push for Medicare parity for Medicaid payments for primary care services fell short. The House version of the budget had included $460 million in state funds to reinstate the parity payments. They had been established and paid for with federal funds for two years under the Affordable Care Act, but that funding ran out Jan. 1. The Senate’s draft state budget included no money for the reinstatement, and the conference committee voted 9-1 for the Senate version on that budget item. Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) was the only conferee to vote against that decision.