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MERC cuts put clinical training at risk

Minnesota hospitals and clinics are feeling the pinch of 2011 state legislation that severely reduces funding to Medical Education and Research Costs (MERC). The cuts jeopardize University of Minnesota Medical School training programs, partner hospitals, and, ultimately, access to health care in Minnesota.

The state program compensates hospitals, clinics, and other health care providers for a portion of the costs of clinical training for health professional students and residents. As a result of the cutbacks, some hospitals and clinics must reduce the number of residents they train or stop training medical students entirely.

The Legislature’s MERC allocation in 2010 was $63.6 million, including $5.35 million in direct payments to the University of Minnesota and University of Minnesota Medical Center, Fairview (UMMC). In 2011, MERC funding for hospitals and clinics was reduced by more than 50 percent to $31.5 million, and direct payments to the University and UMMC were eliminated.

The direct payments helped to fund training for dental students at dental clinics in the Twin Cities, Willmar, and Hibbing; served as a federal match for the University’s Area Health Education Center programs statewide; and assisted in financing medical clinics in underserved areas.

You can help

Please let your colleagues and community leaders know that MERC reductions threaten the training of Minnesota’s future health care providers. Get involved online, or contact the Medical Alumni Society through Katrina Roth at k.roth@mmf.umn. edu or 612-625-0336.

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