Governor’s budget restores MERC funding

ST. Paul, MN – As part of his 2014-2015 budget released last month, Governor Dayton refocuses on Minnesota’s health care services by restoring $12.8 million of the funds lost by the Medical Education Research Costs (MERC) due to budget cuts in 2011.
MERC, a program that gives grants to health care providers who train medical students, lost millions in state funding in 2011. As a direct result, medical residency programs across Minnesota struggled financially to keep their unique programs alive.
Some of the hardest hit recipients of MERC funds were providers dedicated to training doctors and dentists for medical services in rural areas. The Duluth Family Medical Residency Program and similar ones in St. Cloud and Mankato all suffered from the 2011 budget cuts.
During the 2012 session, Senator Roger Reinert (DFL-Duluth) advocated to restore $6.4 million to MERC so providers could continue residency programs. Unfortunately, the request was denied.
Now, however, Sen. Reinert is pleased to see Governor Dayton’s budget restore funding to this part of Minnesota’s health care services. “Seventy percent of the doctors trained in Minnesota stay here,” said Sen. Reinert. “That helps keep our communities healthy and our economy strong.”
Those who apply for training programs like The Duluth Family Medical Residency Program are often interested in serving away from major cities. The residents learn skills that are particularly in demand in rural areas, such as the ability to perform caesarean sections.
“As we keep moving through the budget process, I want to see MERC funding remain a top priority. Rural medical jobs need to be filled. If we provide the right resources to attract bright students and train them to serve these areas, our health care system in Minnesota will only be stronger.”

Senator Roger Reinert
Roger Reinert represents District 7, which includes St. Louis County. He is also an educator.

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