Director of government relations, Association of American Medical Colleges
The last time Congress boosted the number of slots it funds for graduate medical education—before Ally Perleoni worked for the Association of American Medical Colleges—was in 1997, when she was in second grade.
Perleoni, director of government relations, can't take all the credit for convincing lawmakers to add 1,000 Medicare-funded graduate education slots in the 2021 budget bill. But she remembers people telling her when she took the job in 2017 how boosting that number was impossible.
"I got a bunch of crap from some of my physician colleagues who were like, 'Oh, they'll never get more slots. Congress will never pay for it. Good luck kiddo!'" Perleoni said. "That was kind of a bummer. And so I really jumped in."
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The result? She really did help land those slots by crafting an argument for lawmakers that helped them see the issue less as a partisan one than one especially important to anyone who needs a doctor, such as people in rural areas. Then she helped score another boost last year to specifically target the opioid and mental health crises.
"We got an additional 200 slots—the second such increase in nearly 25 years, which I was sure to tell all the people who doubted me," she said.
She isn't done, and the concepts Perleoni has pushed have only gained momentum. It would be tough to pass this year, but a bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed adding another 14,000 such positions.