Graves Introduces Bill to Promote Residency Fairness for Osteopathic Medical Students

September 21, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sam Graves (MO-06), along with Representatives Diana Harshbarger (R-TN) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME), today introduced the Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act to reduce potential barriers that face osteopathic medical students when applying for federally-funded physician residency programs.

“North Missouri is the home to A.T. Still University in Kirksville, MO, the birthplace of osteopathic medicine, which continues to train the next generation of DOs. In a day and age when doctors are in short supply, specifically in rural areas, it’s critical they are able to complete their training and begin practicing,” said Graves. “Yet, many times osteopathic medical students aren’t even considered for taxpayer-funded residency programs. Rural healthcare needs the services and expertise of DOs like never before and this bill will remove some of the hurdles which can keep them from taking the next step in their training.”

“I am proud to help lead legislation that has the ability to transform accessibility to DOs across the country and strengthen our physician pipeline, especially in rural and underserved areas. It’s more critical now than ever that we ensure our taxpayer-funded residency training programs are fairly and equally deploying all the best talent of tomorrow’s doctors and specialists, from both DO and MD educational backgrounds,” said Harshbarger. “This bill is an important step toward ensuring transparency and equality in our taxpayer-funded GME programs, with the ultimate goal of increasing the number of physicians trained and serving our communities.”

“As one of the fastest growing health professions in the country, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine provide essential care in our communities, particularly in rural and underserved areas. It’s ridiculous that osteopathic medical students are facing discrimination and extra hurdles to accessing federally funded residency programs. The FAIR Act will help to ensure more accountability from these programs,” said Pingree. “I’m proud that so many dedicated DOs are being trained in Maine and across the country. We should be helping them serve patients without unnecessary barriers, which is exactly what this legislation aims to do.”

The FAIR Act requires taxpayer-funded graduate medical education (GME) programs to: (1) report annually the number of applicants for residency from MD- and DO-granting medical schools and how many such applicants were accepted from each respective type of school and (2) affirm annually that they accept applicants from MD- and DO-granting medical schools and that if an examination score is required for acceptance, the MD and DO licensing exams will be equally accepted.

“The Fair Access in Residency (FAIR) Act is crucial to the health and wellness of our country. Passage helps assure patients will continue to have options and choices for their healthcare," said A.T. Still University President Craig M. Phelps, DO.

“We appreciate Reps. Harshbarger, Pingree and Graves’ effort to address the unfair barriers and discrimination that osteopathic medical students face when applying to federally funded residency training,” said American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “Ensuring that osteopathic medical students have an equitable path to residency not only reflects the spirit of single accreditation, which was designed to increase access to residency programs for both DOs and MDs, but it also addresses persistent and prevalent biases against osteopathic medical students, many of whom will go on to care for patients in rural and medically underserved communities. We also thank our peer organizations for supporting this vital bill.”