Senator’s bipartisan legislation could make certain areas in Arizona eligible for a National Health Service Corps program that helps recruit and retain general surgeons
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema cosponsored the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act – bipartisan legislation increasing Arizonans’ access to health care by making certain areas in Arizona potentially eligible for a National Health Service Corps program that would help recruit and retain general surgeons. Sinema’s bipartisan legislation requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to gather high-quality data to determine areas in Arizona and across the country with short supply of general surgeons.
“Arizonans deserve access to high quality, affordable care close to where they live. By examining gaps in care, we can address shortages and improve Arizonans’ access to care,” said Sinema.
Lack of access to general surgeons can accelerate or contribute to the closing of community and rural hospitals if patients cannot receive medical treatment close to home. Many Arizona patients must drive hours away to larger health systems for surgery, follow-up visits, and aftercare – delaying routine surgical care, even for simple cases like appendicitis. These obstacles can create serious complications for patients who cannot afford or easily travel to other hospitals, worsen health outcomes, and increase the cost of their care.
Through Sinema’s bipartisan legislation, rural areas in Arizona and across the country experiencing surgeon shortages can be officially designated as “shortage areas” and potentially gain access to the National Health Service Corps program, which provides scholarships and student loan repayment awards to primary care, dental care, and mental health providers who agree to work in shortage areas. This program could incentivize general surgeons to locate or remain in communities with shortages, which can help guarantee Arizona patients have access to quality surgical care.