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GME funding the focus at Senate subcommittee

February 28, 2014

Governor Rick Snyder's proposed cut to graduate medical education (GME) took center stage last Thursday at a Senate Appropriations Community Health Subcommittee, as several groups, including the Michigan State Medical Society, urged senators to restore that funding for the fiscal year 2014-15 budget. The proposed executive budget did not continue $1.4 million in GME funding allocated in the current year budget. Snyder did the same during the budget debate last year, but Sen. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), chair of the subcommittee, recommended (and won) the restoration of funding to that program. Although he would not commit to doing so again this year, Moolenaar said it will certainly be a priority as budget discussions continue. Maryjean Schenk, vice dean for medical education at Wayne State University, told the subcommittee that restoring GME funding could help with an expected shortage of primary care physicians, the latter of which should also be a priority of the Legislature when deciding what to fund and where in the budget. "Michigan ranks 15th nationally in total active primary care physicians, and just 40 percent are open to new patients," she said. "The state needs a new plan to address that shortage." Schenk said that while WSU has increased its graduate school medical school students, not funding GME is a message from the state to those students that it does not have a graduate school plan for them. "Training doctors in Michigan encourages them to stay in Michigan," she said. (subscriber access only)