2023 FMA State Budget Update
May 4, 2023
The 2023 Legislative Session is coming to a close, and your Florida Medical Association has taken tremendous strides in improving the practice of medicine through the state budget process.
The following accomplishments represent the FMA’s approach to addressing the physician shortage as a three-legged stool. The goals were to increase physician pay for those who treat Florida’s most vulnerable patients, create new residency slots, and alleviate the medical student loan debt burden. While there is still work to do, these are significant victories for physicians and patients in Florida.
Physician Medicaid Rate Increase for Pediatric Services
In the most significant payment increase for Florida physicians in over a decade, the FMA secured $76 million to increase reimbursement rates to, at a minimum, the Medicare level for physicians who provide pediatric care to Medicaid patients. These services include both primary and specialty care. The rate increase is effective October 1, 2023.
Slots for Doctors – Graduate Medical Education
Florida currently faces an increasing physician workforce shortage in both primary and specialty care. These shortages are exacerbated by a rapidly aging physician and patient population. With this in mind, the FMA secured a recurring $30 million appropriation to create the Slots for Doctors Program.
This new graduate medical education program will incentivize the creation of 300 resident positions in the specialties in a statewide supply-and-demand deficit. The program will allocate $100,000 annually for residency positions in an initial or established accredited residency program. All hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Centers are eligible for “Slots for Docs” funding. Further, these residency positions will also qualify for the one-time Graduate Medical Education Startup Bonus Program.
The specialties that qualify for the Slots for Docs program are as follows:
In both adult and pediatric - allergy or immunology; anesthesiology; cardiology; colon and rectal surgery; emergency medicine; endocrinology; family medicine; gastroenterology; general internal medicine; geriatric medicine; hematology; oncology; infectious diseases; neonatology; nephrology; neurological surgery; obstetrics/gynecology; ophthalmology; orthopedic surgery; pediatrics; physical medicine and rehabilitation; plastic surgery/reconstructive surgery; psychiatry; pulmonary/critical care; radiation oncology; rheumatology; thoracic surgery; urology; and vascular surgery.
Medical Student Loan Forgiveness - FRAME Program
$16 Million for Fiscal Year 2023-2024
Due to the overwhelming success of the Florida Reimbursement Assistance for Medical Education (FRAME) Program, the FMA was able to increase the program’s recurring funding from $6 to $16 million. The FRAME Program assists eligible healthcare practitioners, including physicians, with the repayment of medical education loans.
$10 Million Additional Funds for Fiscal Year 2022-2023
But wait, there’s more! During the 2022 Legislative Session, the FMA secured an annual appropriation of nearly $6 million for the program. As the funds requested by eligible applicants far exceeded the initial allocation, the FMA was able to add $10 million, bringing total funding for the 2022-2023 fiscal year to $16 million total. The additional funds will allow the Department of Health to increase the number of awards to eligible applicants.
For Florida to lead the nation in quality healthcare and to care for our aging and growing population, it is critical to invest in the next generation of physician leaders. Nearly 60% of students who complete residency in Florida remain in Florida to practice medicine. Thus, increasing the number of high-quality residency slots and providing opportunities for student loan forgiveness will enable Florida to retain more high-quality physicians.
While the Legislative Budget Conference has agreed to the abovementioned funding, the budget will have to be agreed to by both Chambers and survive the Governor’s veto pen. The 2023 Legislative Session is anticipated to conclude on May 5, the FMA will provide a comprehensive end-of-session update in the coming days.