Legislation that reauthorizes an important program to ensure that the U.S. has enough doctors trained to treat children cleared final passage in the House and now awaits President Obama’s signature.
The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 reauthorizes federal funding to support graduate medical education for freestanding children’s hospitals. Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) and Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA) sponsored the bill, which will invest $300 million annually in children’s hospitals over the next five years.
“CHOP is grateful for the bipartisan leadership that Sen. Casey and Rep. Pitts provided on this legislation,” said The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s CEO Steven Altschuler, MD. “They recognize the importance of pediatric healthcare and ensuring it is accessible in communities throughout Pennsylvania and beyond. By enabling children’s hospitals to train pediatricians, we can meet the specialized needs of our patients and provide appropriate healthcare for children."
By 2025, the U.S. will face a shortage of physicians to meet the needs of our U.S. population, according to the American Medical Association. Pediatric subspecialists who train at children’s hospitals are among the more than 20 specialty groups already experiencing severe shortages. Close to 4 million babies are born annually in the U.S., so it is vital for the nation to maintain a robust pediatric workforce.
First enacted by Congress in 1999, the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education program encourages more young doctors to pursue pediatrics. CHGME provides funding to about 55 freestanding children’s hospitals in 30 states to support the training of more than 6,000 pediatricians and other residents.
“Reauthorizing this program will help some of our country’s best medical centers train physicians and enable families and children to receive better care,” Casey said. “Pennsylvania’s children’s hospitals are some of the best in the country. Passing this bill will allow these hospitals to continue their lifesaving work and remain a driver of our economy.”
In his remarks on the House floor before the vote on the bill April 1, Pitts said, “I am glad that today we will pass a bill that will help keep American children healthy. … Locally in my area of Pennsylvania, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia participates in the program. I’ve had the privilege of visiting the hospital a number of times and meeting with the young patients and the doctors learning how to treat them.”
The CHGME program has a proven track record of success. Although they represent 1 percent of all hospitals, freestanding children’s hospitals train more than 45 percent of general pediatricians, 51 percent of all pediatric specialists, and the majority of pediatric researchers.