Philadelphia, PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) joined by patients, families and doctors from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) pushed for Congress to boost funding for a program that could add dollars to CHOP. A recently passed Casey bill, The Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013, paves the way for more funding to the program yet the Administration is still eying the program for cuts in its 2015 budget. Casey released a letter to key members of Congress calling on them to provide additional funding to the program, which puts medical residents in Children’s hospitals and added $32 million to children’s hospitals in Pennsylvania during 2013. Patients discussed the benefits of this lifesaving medical investment and CHOP’s doctors discussed what this additional funding could add to the hospital’s pediatric care.
“This program plays a critical role in providing pediatric care to young children and Congress should maintain its funding in the coming budget,” Senator Casey said. “I’m pleased that Congress came together recently to pass my legislation to reauthorize this program. The unanimous passage of this legislation is a sign of the strong support that this graduate medical education program has and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to continue and expand its funding.”
The Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program provides freestanding children’s hospitals with federal graduate medical education (GME) support similar to the funding that other teaching hospitals receive through Medicare. The 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 54 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 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 of 2013, which was signed into law last week, will reauthorize the program for five years at $300 million a year. The legislation also makes important changes to the program by giving the Secretary authority to include in the program a small number of freestanding children’s hospitals who have been ineligible to participate in the past for technical reasons. 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 would be 25% of enacted CHGME funding over $245 million, up to a maximum of $7 million, and hospitals would have to undergo a normal application process.