Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of S. 1557, the Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013.
As every parent knows, it's very important to have a trusted doctor to turn to when their child gets sick. Since its inception in 1999, the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education Program--known as CHGME--has helped to make sure that a doctor is there and prepared to diagnose any symptoms our children face.
In fact, the program has been a true success. In the 1990s declines in pediatric training programs threatened the stability of the pediatric workforce. CHGME helped to reverse these dangerous declines. Even then, Congress, on a bipartisan manner recognized that if we didn't create and fund programs that would train doctors to treat these children, there won't be anyone left to take care of them.
That is why, the House overwhelmingly supported reauthorization of the program in the 112th and 113th Congresses, passing standalone legislation in September 2011, including the reauthorization in broader legislation in December 2012, and approving standalone legislation one year ago.
The legislation before us today--which has already cleared the Senate by unanimous consent--reauthorizes the program through fiscal year 2018 and makes two important changes to the program.
First, S. 1557 allows the Secretary of Health and Human Services to undertake a limited program expansion to include children's psychiatric hospitals and other freestanding children's hospitals that have been ineligible to participate in the program for technical reasons.
Second, it gives the Secretary the authority to redistribute funding set-aside for the newly-eligible hospitals that is unused, based upon quality measures that are consistent with residency program accreditation criteria and that are developed in consultation with stakeholders.
With this federal CHGME support, children's hospitals can play a key role in ensuring the continued growth of our nation's pediatric workforce. In 2012, the program supported the training of 6,015 resident physicians nationally. The program will also help to enhance hospitals' research capabilities and improve hospitals' ability to provide care to vulnerable and underserved children.
I want to thank Congressman JOE PITTS, the Chairman of our Health Subcommittee, for working with me on the House bill. Together with his help and leadership, we advanced House CHGME legislation upon convening the 113th Congress. A special thanks to Chairman Upton and Ranking Member Waxman for their support in addressing this critical program.
I also want to commend Senators CASEY and ISAKSON for their leadership on this legislation in the Senate and hard work to address concerns raised about children's psychiatric hospitals and other children's hospitals being excluded from the program in a fair and balanced way.
Mr. Speaker, this program has proven results and it is past time that we finally reauthorize CHGME so that we can provide certainty to hospitals, doctors and their patients.
Children in our communities are counting on this program to train a future generation of pediatricians. I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on S. 1557 and to send this measure to the President.