Today, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee reported out the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013, with bipartisan support. The legislation, which provides freestanding children's hospitals federal support for graduate medical education (GME) teaching programs for pediatric medical residents, includes a provision authored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that extends federal support to teaching programs at children's psychiatric hospitals.
Senators Whitehouse and Jack Reed (D-RI), original cosponsors of the legislation, have long advocated for the inclusion of children's psychiatric hospitals, like Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island, in the Children's Hospitals GME payment program as a means to address the shortfall in mental health professionals that specialize in treating children and adolescents. Senator Whitehouse's provision accomplishes this.
"Psychiatric children's hospitals like Bradley play a key role in training the next generation of mental health professionals," said Whitehouse, a member of the HELP Committee. "By including these hospitals in the CHGME program, this bill will make a significant difference in their ability to sustain, build, and strengthen their residency programs, and will help our children have access to trained health care professionals who can provide the best possible mental and behavioral health care services."
"I have fought to address the omission of children's psychiatric teaching hospitals for years because I believe it is essential to end discriminatory funding policies against children with mental health issues. I commend Senators Casey, Isakson, Whitehouse, and others who helped broker this bipartisan agreement to include children's psychiatric teaching hospitals in the definition of a "children's hospital.' I remain committed to boosting mental health parity and ensuring that Bradley Hospital and other children's psychiatric teaching hospitals have the resources and federal support they need to train doctors equipped to treat mental illness," said Reed, a former member of the HELP Committee who has worked on this issue for over a decade.
The Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013 will reauthorize the Children's Hospitals GME (CHGME) Payment Program for five years at $300 million per year. The bill authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use a portion of CHGME funds appropriated above $245 million for "qualified hospitals" that meet the requirements of the program but for technical reasons did not previously qualify.
The bill will now go to the Senate floor, where it awaits action by the full Senate.