Mullin, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Address Primary Care Physician Shortages in Rural America

Today, U.S. Senators Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), along with Reps. Tom Cole (OK-04) and Dina Titus (NV-01) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Medical Student Education Authorization Act to authorize the Medical Student Education (MSE) Program through fiscal year 2025.

The MSE Program provides grants to public institutions of higher education to expand or support graduate education for physicians in states with the most severe primary care provider shortages. First created in 2019 by Congressman Cole and former Senator Jim Inhofe, the MSE Program is currently subject to annual authorizations, which results in significant uncertainty over funding and long-term planning for funded institutions.

“Many Oklahomans have to travel long distances to see their primary care provider at small, rural hospitals or IHS and Tribal-run facilities,” said Senator Mullin. “Over the past few years, our communities have faced a growing physician shortage that is making it more difficult for rural, Tribal, and underserved areas to receive proper care. Our bipartisan bill will authorize the MSE Program to support graduate education for physicians in states like Oklahoma to ensure rural Americans receive the care they need. I’m grateful to Rep. Cole, Rep. Titus, and Sen. Rosen for their partnership in reintroducing the Medical Student Education Authorization Act.”

“The shortage of physicians in Nevada continues to impact our communities and threatens our communities’ access to quality medical care,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m introducing bipartisan legislation to incentivize the next generation of doctors to come learn at one of our medical schools and then stay in Nevada to practice. This will help increase the number of doctors in states like ours and expand access to quality medical care.”

“It is well known that medical students and residents are likely to practice in communities similar to their own and to ones similar to where they were trained,” said Rep. Cole. “By offering medical training and education in rural, tribal and underserved communities and focusing on recruiting students from these areas, the Medical Student Education Program works to place providers in these communities long-term and ensure access to quality health care. One key indicator of the program’s current success in tribal communities is the fact that nearly half of medical students self-identifying as Native American are enrolled in a medical school participating in this program. I am thankful for my colleagues’ continued support on this critical legislation and look forward to working with them to move this bill across the finish line and bring relief to areas that face severe healthcare provider shortages.”

“We need a whole-of-government approach to address the physician shortages plaguing communities here in Nevada and across the country. By supporting medical student training in underserved areas, we can invest in the next generation of providers while improving care access and patient outcomes,” said Rep. Titus.

Full bill text here.

The Medical Student Education Authorization Act is endorsed by the following stakeholders:

  • American Medical Association
  • Association of American Medical Colleges
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Children’s Hospital Association
  • National Rural Health Association
  • National Indian Health Board
  • National Council of Urban Indian Health
  • Oklahoma State Medical Association
  • Oklahoma Hospital Association
  • OU College of Medicine
  • OSU Center for Health Sciences
  • OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine at the Cherokee Nation
  • OSU College of Osteopathic Medicine
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