Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013. The legislation, which authorizes federal support for graduate medical education (GME) in freestanding children's teaching hospitals, includes a provision authored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that extends the program to children's psychiatric hospitals like Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island -- making them eligible for the same CHGME funding that general hospitals have benefitted from for years.
The legislation was already passed by the U.S. Senate last November. It now goes on to President Obama to be signed into law.
Senators Whitehouse and Jack Reed (D-RI), original cosponsors of the legislation, have long advocated for the inclusion of Bradley and other children's psychiatric hospitals in the Children's Hospitals GME payment program. U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline also strongly supported the legislation as it moved through the House. The new law will help address the shortfall in mental health professionals that specialize in treating children and adolescents.
"We must support medical training programs that teach new health professionals how to treat children's mental and behavioral health conditions, not just physical ones," said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. "My provision will include children's psychiatric hospitals in the CHGME program, so these hospitals can build and sustain their residency programs. Now that the House has passed this important legislation, Bradley Hospital and others may have an opportunity to compete for federal funding, and I look forward to helping them through that process."
"I am pleased Congress has approved legislation to help children's hospitals across the country. This is a smart investment in helping children's hospitals train the next generation of pediatricians. I am also pleased we were able to finally reach an agreement to address the omission of children's psychiatric teaching hospitals because it is essential to end discriminatory funding policies against children with mental health issues. I commend Senators Whitehouse, Casey, Isakson, 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.
"Too many children lack access to critical mental and behavioral health care," said Langevin. "This legislation will finally provide medical education funding for teaching hospitals like Bradley, which support the training of doctors who specialize in child and adolescent psychiatry. I applaud Senators Reed and Whitehouse for their leadership on this issue, which will benefit Rhode Island hospitals, medical students and, most importantly, young patients."
"I am very pleased the House was able to come together and pass this bipartisan legislation that will protect children's hospitals and ensure institutions like Bradley Hospital are eligible for critical funding to train the next generation of professionals," said Cicilline. "Graduate medical residents training to be pediatricians need experience caring for all kids and this bill is a smart investment to improve the outcome of children's health care. I've been a strong advocate for providing children's psychiatric hospitals like Bradley with equitable access to critical sources of funding and will continue to work to ensure hospitals in Rhode Island and across America can compete for federal funds to better treat their patients."
"As the region's only children's psychiatric hospital, we are so pleased that this legislation is on its way to becoming law. I'd like to thank Senator Whitehouse and Senator Reed for the leadership they have demonstrated on this crucial issue and extend my thanks to Congressmen Langevin and Cicilline for their efforts on behalf of Bradley Hospital," said Dan Wall, president of Bradley Hospital. "This issue has been in discussion for a number of years and has faced many hurdles. We are so appreciative of the steadfast support and advocacy of our entire congressional delegation in recognizing the importance of pediatric, child and adolescent psychiatry training. The passage of this legislation is all the more important as we confront the growing challenge of meeting the behavioral health needs of our state and the country's children and adolescents."
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. In other words, if funding appropriated for the program exceeds $245 million, Bradley Hospital and other children's psychiatric hospitals will be able to compete for a portion of the funding above that threshold.