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Welcome to Congressman Larry Bucshon

Representing the 8th District of Indiana

Bipartisan Bill from Bucshon, Grassley, Schatz, Bera Would Help Document Areas Underserved by General Surgeons

June 15, 2017
Press Release

Bipartisan Bill from Bucshon, Grassley, Schatz, Bera Would Help Document Areas Underserved by General Surgeons

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-Ind.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Rep. Ami Bera (D-Calif.) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would produce high quality data on where general surgeons are in short supply around the country.  The need for general surgeons is especially high in rural or other under-served communities.

“As a practicing surgeon for nearly 15 years, I understand that access to general surgery services can significantly improve health outcomes and save lives,” Bucshon said. “Unfortunately, many of our rural communities in Indiana, and across the country, are facing a shortage of general surgeons, which can prevent many of our citizens in those areas from receiving the care they need. This legislation will provide important data and information on how we can best develop solutions to address this growing challenge.”    

“If you have an accident on a farm in rural Iowa, there are usually no general surgeons available nearby to treat you,” Grassley said.  “You need a general surgeon to find any hidden injuries and perform the surgery to treat them.  We know generally that general surgeons are in short supply all over.  Our bill would help determine exactly where those doctors are needed the most.  With that information, policymakers and the medical community will be able to place surgeons where they’ll do the most good.”

 “You can’t solve a problem without understanding it first,” Schatz said. “This bill will shine a bright light on the communities that need general surgeons, and in doing so help us expand access to health care for Americans, no matter where they live.”

“We need to prepare today to avoid serious physician shortages in the future,” Bera said.  “We know that our current supply of surgeons will not be able to keep pace with a growing and aging population. This bill will help us understand which areas are most in need and how we can best target effective solutions so that every American has access to high quality care regardless of where they live.”

The Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act of 2017 is identical in the Senate and House of Representatives.  The measure would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a study on the designation of general surgery shortage areas.  Such an area is an urban, suburban or rural area of the United States with a population underserved by general surgeons.  High quality, impartial data should consider health outcomes, utilization trends, growing and aging populations and delivery system needs, which all have an effect on surgeon demands.

The text of the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act of 2017 is available here.  The Senate bill is S. 1351.  The House bill is H.R. 2906.