September 28, 2010

Schumer, Gillibrand, Mcmahon Announce Nearly Three Million Dollars For Rumc’s Residency Slots Program; Funding Will Help To Preserve Health Care Access On Staten Island

RUMC’s Medical Residency Program Given a $2.8 Million Dollar Shot in the Arm to Train New Primary Care Doctors

New York, NY – U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and U.S. Representative Michael McMahon today announced $2,880,000 in federal funding for Richmond University Medical Center’s (RUMC) residency slots program, which has been under threat of losing millions of dollars in funding. Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services new Primary Care Residency Expansion Grant Program, a program authorized under the Affordable Care Act. This program funds 82 accredited primary care training programs in the U.S. 

“More doctors at RUMC equals better care for all Staten Islanders. As the fastest growing borough in New York, Staten Island needs every single health care provider it can get – period. That’s why I’m so pleased to announce this important victory for Staten Island residents,” Schumer said. “This funding will allow RUMC, only one of two hospitals on the Island, to strengthen its residency program so it can provide the best possible care for patients. I look forward to continuing to fight to ensure that RUMC has all the support it needs to provide quality health care to Staten Islanders.”

 “Staten Islanders only have access to two hospitals in their community, so it is critical that we ensure RUMC has the resources it needs to provide a growing volume of patients with high quality, effective care,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This investment will bolster RUMC’s Medical Residency program and preserve access to primary care physicians on Staten Island.”

“I am pleased that we have been able to secure this critical grant to help RUMC train more physicians.  As the most medically underserved Borough, Staten Island relies heavily on RUMC for medical care and expertise.  Since my time in the NYC Council, I have been committed to helping RUMC and support its continued service to our community,” said Rep. McMahon. “By adding more primary care physicians we will help reduce the strain on our hospitals and their emergency rooms and allow more Staten Islanders to be treated by a family doctor close to home.” 

Edward Arsura, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Medicine at the Medical Center, said: “This Primary Care Residency Award allows us to focus on the training of primary care physicians who will be at the forefront of healthcare throughout the community.  Primary care physicians trained through this program will provide ready-access, continuous and coordinated care for a vast spectrum of preventative and medical issues.  We look forward to further develop the Patient-Centered Medical Home model of care at Richmond University Medical Center with the infusion of these residents.”

The Association of Medical Colleges estimates that an additional 21,000 primary care physicians will be needed by 2015. RUMC’s initiative, the Expansion of Internal Medicine Residency Program to Promote Careers in Primary Care, is  a primary care residency program that will train medical residents in local community-based clinics and private doctor’s offices. The program will train future doctors and expand the use of a patient-centered, medical home, which studies have shown is a more efficient and effective method of delivering health care.

These funds will mitigate a recent Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decision to reduce RUMC’s medical resident reimbursement caps. RUMC is one of only two hospitals serving the Staten Island Community and one of only 300 teaching hospitals in the US to offer a full residency program in all areas of medicine. These clinics provide support and care to the hospital, especially with underinsured or uninsured patients.

On January 5th, 2010, Schumer and McMahon sent Acting CMS Administrator Charlene Frizzera a letter urging her to reconsider CMS’s decision. On January 20th, 2010, Schumer and McMahon personally met with CMS staff to express the critical role that RUMC serves and to ask for assistance for the hospital.

RUMC is home to a fully accredited medical residency program, wherein medical residents are able to provide patient care under the supervision of a teaching physician. But CMS proposed a residency cap adjustment that would reduce RUMC’s medical resident reimbursement caps for 2007, 2008, and in all future years. The proposal would retroactively impose a reduced resident allocation to the hospital even though these slots were eliminated in 2005 as part of a national redistribution of residency slots undertaken by CMS at the time. RUMC is reimbursed for its residency program through Medicare, as are many other teaching hospitals.  This reduction in residency slots could have resulted in an estimated $6 million hit to the hospital for the period 2007-2009 and more than $2 million for all future years.