The Council on Graduate Medical Education, created in 1988 to track physician workforce trends, has lost federal funding and will cease to exist Sept. 30. Officials said the elimination of the government advisory council would deal a blow to national efforts to objectively assess how many and what kinds of doctors are needed to cope with long-term healthcare needs. COGME, part of HHS' Bureau of Health Professions, is the only neutral organization dealing with the overall physician-workforce issue, said Carl Getto, council chairman and senior vice president of medical staff affairs at the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, Madison. "I think the kinds of discussion that we had on workforce issues will no long happen," Getto said. "I think the government and the public will be hurt by that." Getto said he does not expect last-minute funding from Congress.
The council in July endorsed its final report, Physician Workforce Policy Guidelines for the U.S. for 2000-2020. The report warns of a significant shortage of physicians over the next 15 years and calls for an increase of 24,000 to 27,000 physicians entering the workforce and the expansion of U.S. medical school enrollment by 15% over the next decade. -- by Michael Romano