Washington, DC- Today U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that the Administration’s budget shortchanges a bipartisan program that connects graduate medical students with pediatric patients. The Administration only requests $100 million for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program despite signing into law a bipartisan Casey bill authorizing $300 million in funding. CHGME provides freestanding children’s hospitals with federal graduate medical education (GME) support similar to the funding that other teaching hospitals receive through Medicare.
“I’m disappointed that the Administration’s budget does not provide adequate resources to the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program,” Senator Casey said. “Congress unanimously passed legislation reauthorizing this program and the President signed that into law. Now he once again is choosing to underfund it. I’ll work to increase funds for this program as the budget process moves forward. Children are not little adults, and our future doctors need specialized training so that our kids get optimal care. This program has a proven track record of success in connecting graduate medical students with pediatric patients so they can get the specialized care they need.”
The CHGME program was first enacted by Congress in 1999 with bipartisan support and has been reauthorized twice since then, each time again with broad bipartisan support. The program provides funding to about 55 freestanding children’s hospitals in 30 states to support the training of pediatricians and other residents.
The program has a proven track record of success and represents a high-value investment in children’s health care. Prior to the enactment of CHGME in late 1999, the number of residents in children's hospital residency programs had declined over 13 percent, according to the American Board of Pediatrics. Since the enactment of CHGME, children’s hospitals have reversed this trend, increasing their training slots by 45 percent. Today, though they represent just 1 percent of all hospitals, freestanding children’s hospitals train over 45 percent of general pediatricians, 51 percent of all pediatric specialists and the majority of pediatric researchers.
The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act reauthorized the program for five years at $300 million a year. The legislation also made important changes to the program by giving the Secretary authority to include in the program a small number of freestanding children’s hospitals who had been ineligible to participate in the past for technical reasons. First, the bill allows the Secretary to use a portion of the funds appropriated over $245 million for these children’s hospitals that train pediatric providers and meet the same general qualifications as existing participants but currently do not qualify for Medicare GME or CHGME. The amount of this pool in a given year is 25 percent of enacted CHGME funding over $245 million, up to a maximum of $7 million, and hospitals have to undergo a normal application process.