HHS Needs Better Information to Comprehensively Evaluate Graduate Medical Education Funding

GAO Reports (03/18)

Federal agencies and state Medicaid agencies spent more than $16.3 billion in 2015 to fund graduate medical education (GME) training for physicians. A study conducted by U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) describes the amount and distribution of federal government and state Medicaid agency spending on GME and examines the extent to which the federal government collects information to understand its investment in GME. GAO analyzed 2015 data — the most recent data available at the time of GAO's analysis — including from a state survey. The report found that GME training costs vary due to the characteristics of teaching sites, such as the number of residents trained and their specialty, which can make it difficult to compare training costs across sites. In addition, challenges exist in measuring training costs because some costs — such as faculty teaching time — are difficult to identify. The report also noted there is no standard method for identifying and capturing training costs, and each teaching site may vary in how it does so. The GAO recommended that the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services should coordinate with federal agencies, including Veterans Affairs, that fund GME training to identify information needed to evaluate the performance of federal programs, and identify opportunities to improve the quality and consistency of information, and implement these improvements.

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