MERC: Collection of Cost Data
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The MERC program, established in 1997 and first funded in 1998, awards grants to clinical training sites throughout Minnesota. Eligible sites include those that train physicians, dentists, pharmacists, advanced practice nurses, physician assistants and chiropractors. The program, now combined with funds from the Prepaid Medical Assistance Program (PMAP), distributes between $45 and $50 million per year to eligible sites.
As part of the application process for funding, sponsoring institutions such as the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota Academic Health Center, and Hennepin County Medical Center complete an application that includes data on the cost of clinical training in each individual training program. Currently, cost data is collected in the first year of each biennium, with the data used in a distribution formula to calculate the grant amount for each training site.
The proposed change to the MERC statute (62J.692) would amend the frequency of cost data collection, allowing cost data to be collected at the discretion of the commissioner. MERC staff envision that cost data would be collected every three to four years, depending on the number of programs applying for funding and on trends in costs.
Why this is an issue
Sponsoring institutions have, in the past, indicated frustration with the amount of administrative work involved in applying for MERC funds, as well as difficulties in gathering the necessary cost data from smaller training sites. This change would decrease the administrative burden on sponsoring institutions without compromising the quality of the data or the functioning of the MERC program.
For more information
The MERC Web site contains an overview of the program and a legislative history describing changes that have been made to the MERC statute since 1998. The site also contains fact sheets showing the grants received by each training site in each distribution year.For more information, contact Diane Rydrych at 651-282-6349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.