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Carter, Dunn introduce bill addressing health care workforce shortage

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA) and Neal Dunn (R-FL) this week introduced the Health Care Provider Shortage Minimization Act, a bill to ensure that underserved and rural communities can retain highly skilled health care professionals.

Hospitals often rely on supplementary physicians and practitioners to meet their staffing needs, referred to as locum tenens. Locum tenens fill gaps in hospital staffing that range from permanent staff on vacation or on maternity leave, to multi-year commitments or continuous revolving support due to workforce shortages. The
Health Care Provider Shortage Minimization Act codifies locum tenens status as independent contractors, allowing them to continue treating patients nationwide.

“Locum tenens provide critical care to patients, especially in rural and underserviced communities. By allowing these essential health care workers to maintain their status as independent contractors, we will be able to keep qualified doctors in the workforce and support patients across the country when they seek care. With our current health care provider shortage, this bill is more important now than ever,”
said Rep. Carter.

“This bill aims to ensure that locum tenens, doctors and advanced practitioners who fill temporary gaps in vacant healthcare provider positions, are able to retain their status as independent contractors. Locum tenens are an important tool in addressing the growing physician shortage and it is important to ensure that they are able to provide their services with maximum flexibility as independent contractors,”
said Rep. Dunn.  

A 2019 study shows that approximately 85% of hospitals, medical groups and other health care facilities used locum tenens doctors. 

“NALTO appreciates Congressman Carter’s and Congressman Dunn’s support to help ensure accesses to physicians and other healthcare providers, especially in hard-to-access rural communities. This bill strengthens the ability of doctors and advanced care practitioners to provide on-the-spot care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, surgery centers, clinics, and other medical facilities in all areas of the United States. Locum Tenens providers are especially important for undeserved areas like rural communities, the Veterans Administration, and Indian Health Services. On an annual basis, the locum tenens industry provides an estimated one million days of physician coverage and over 20 million patient visits nationwide. This bill will help doctors and advanced care practitioners continue those desperately needed services,”
said Matt Young, National Association of Locum Tenens (NALTO) President.

Read the full bill text