Washington, D.C. – Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate today would address inequities in federal funding for teaching hospitals that focus on women's health. The Women's Hospitals Education Equity Act, introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and cosponsored by Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Bob Casey (D-PA), would create a new $12 million funding pool for women's hospitals focused on obstetrical care.
“Hospitals focusing on women's health play an important role in our health care system,” said Whitehouse. “It is essential that these facilities receive the funding necessary to train future doctors and ensure we can meet America's growing demand for quality medical care.”
“Ensuring hospitals that focus on women’s care have proper funding and are able to train the next generation of doctors is essential in ensuring equitable, quality health care,” Senator Specter said. “Preventive health care and wellness starts at birth with prenatal care. It is vital that proper obstetrical care is given to women to make our nation healthier and stronger.”
“This bill will correct a long-standing inequity in funding that hospitals providing women’s health care and in particular, obstetrical care, have faced,” said Senator Casey. “We must ensure that these hospitals are fairly funded in order to further educate doctors and medical staff as they continue to provide quality care for women.”
Teaching hospitals specializing in women's health play a vital and unique role in both health care delivery and in training our next generation of obstetricians, gynecologists, neonatologists, and pediatricians. Most teaching hospitals are currently funded by federal Medicare graduate medical education payments, which cover expenses of educating residents. However, for women's health facilities with low volumes of Medicare patients, this results in often inadequate levels of funding.
The Women's Hospitals Education Equity Act will establish a $12 million fund to help women's hospitals around the country pay for graduate medical education programs. In order to target resources directly at those hospitals for which traditional Medicare payments are insufficient, eligibility will be limited to hospitals where fewer than 4% of total discharges were Medicare fee-for-service patients, and where at least 3,000 births occurred annually.