Ramos, Lampitt & Conaway Bill to Help Address Physician Shortages in NJ Gets Final Legislative OK

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ruben J. Ramos, Jr. (D-Hudson), Pamela R. Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington) and Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D. (D-Burlington) to require physicians to complete a survey as a condition for biennial registration with the Board of Medical Examiners in order to better understand and address physician shortages in the state, has received final legislative approval and now heads to the governor’s desk for approval.

The bill is based on a recommendation from the New Jersey Physician Workforce Task Force Report by the New Jersey Council of Teaching Hospital, which cited the need for better data to provide critical information to address future shortages in both primary care and several specialty areas in the state. According to the report, the lack of data created other negative consequences related to qualifying for J-1 visa positions and federal loan repayment funding that the task force behind the report believed could be rectified, if the state instituted a mandatory re-licensure survey.

“The lack of reporting about these shortages is costing the state millions in federal funds, which only exacerbates the problem further,” said Ramos. “Requiring physicians to complete this survey will allow us to have a better grasp of the problem and implement the necessary solutions.”

The bill (A-2905/S-1336) requires physicians to complete a survey with questions related to their professional practice developed by the Department of Health, in collaboration with the State Board of Medical Examiners (BME), as a condition of retaining their licenses to practice in the state.

“The expected physician shortage threatens our ability to provide quality health care services to our residents,” said Lampitt. “This bill will allow us to better understand where we are falling short so we can tackle the problem before it really hinders our ability to deliver quality health care.”

“While the physician shortage is a national problem, it is less so in states with established policies to address it,” said Conaway. “This data can help us make the necessary policy and funding decisions to ensure New Jerseyans have access to essential health care services in the future.”

Under the bill, the BME must require that each physician licensed to practice in the state complete the online survey on the BME website as a condition of biennial registration. The BME is prohibited from conditioning the physician’s biennial registration on any response provided to a survey question. The BME must compile and serve as the repository of the survey results. The data obtained from the survey that is made available to entities shall not link a physician’s name and scope of practice in any manner that would identify the physician who completed the survey.

The data obtained from the survey must be made available within 30 days of a request from state entities and programs as appropriate for the performance of their duties under state or federal law or regulations, or as required to obtain federal funds available to the state for purposes related to the survey results; and medical professional societies, medical schools, and other organizations representing health care providers or involved with physician work force planning in the state.

The bill, which was approved 63-12-2 by the Assembly this month and 36-3 by the Senate last October, would take effect immediately.