Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee, and Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Health Subcommittee, Wednesday introduced legislation to address the serious national shortage of primary and specialty pediatric physicians by funding training programs for physicians to learn these specialties. The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program to help keep well-trained doctors in the pipeline by maintaining existing hospital graduate medical education programs.
"The health of a generation of young Americans is dependent on having plenty of well-trained pediatricians," said Pitts. "Republicans and Democrats agree that we have an effective federal program to train these doctors, and I'm proud to work with Ranking Member Pallone on bipartisan legislation to extend this important support."
Legislation introduced by Pitts and Pallone fills a crucial funding gap left by the president's failure to fund this program in the 2012 budget. The Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education Program has been a major success and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. The program reversed declines in pediatric training programs in the 1990s that threatened the stability of the pediatric workforce.
"The small number of hospitals that receive this funding train approximately 40 percent of all pediatricians," said Pallone. "When parents take their sick children to the doctor, they rightfully expect that person will be able to treat and diagnose their child. This program ensures that doctor is prepared to treat the unique needs of children and has a major impact on our country's ability to provide high quality health care for children."
The Children's Hospital GME legislation maintains the discretionary funding levels for the program by providing $330 million to hospitals over the next five years.
Nationwide, 56 hospitals in 30 states participate in the program which funds GME programs for medical school graduates, enhances hospitals' research capabilities and improves hospitals' ability to provide care to vulnerable and underserved children. In 2009, the program supported the training of 5,361 resident physicians.
In Pennsylvania, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Temple University Hospital, St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh all participate in the program.