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Children's Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PITTS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, Pennsylvanians are fortunate to have several excellent children's hospitals in the State. One of these hospitals is the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the country's first hospital to exclusively care for children, and they have remained one of the best for over 150 years.

In a recent survey, the hospital was rated number one in six separate pediatric specialties and ranked no lower than fourth in another four specialty categories.

Other children around the country aren't so fortunate to have access to excellent doctors. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that more than 8 million children have no pediatrician in their area. Many other sick children have to drive hundreds of miles to see a doctor who specializes in treating their condition.

Children aren't just miniature adults, and treating them isn't just a matter of working on a smaller scale and shrinking the equipment. A doctor who is experienced in treating adults may not be able to apply that same expertise to a child. Treating children is both a medical and an emotional challenge. Often, doctors have to correctly diagnose an illness in little patients who haven't even learned to speak. It takes a special person to go into pediatrics.

For a time in the 1990s, our Nation was facing an acute shortage of pediatricians. With much of government assistance to train doctors being funneled through the Medicare program, it was becoming significantly more expensive for a doctor to choose to be trained in pediatrics.

To help correct this imbalance, Congress created the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education program. This is a program that was created, and has been sustained, with bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, the program is facing elimination. President Obama's budget for the 2012 fiscal year called for elimination of the program, despite the positive results.

I support getting rid of programs that are duplicative, unproven, or unnecessary, especially with the budget pressures we are facing now; however, CHGME has a proven track record. Over 40 percent of pediatricians in the United States are trained through CHGME.

Forty-three percent of those in subspecialities are trained through the program.

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia runs the largest pediatric residency program in the country. Their residents will treat children in my community and then move across the country to practice in other communities. We need their expertise now more than ever.

Last Congress, I worked with my Democratic counterpart on the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, Representative Frank Pallone, to introduce legislation to renew the program. Our legislation passed the House of Representatives twice in the 112th Congress, both times by voice vote.

Unfortunately, the bill was tied up in the Senate and was not considered. Congressman Pallone and I wasted no time in reintroducing the bill this year, and I'm proud to say that in the very first meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee, on January 22, the bill was reported out unanimously. The bill is a very simple, 5-year reauthorization of the CHGME program at current funding levels.

H.R. 297 is supported by the Children's Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association, the Academic Pediatric Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Pediatric Society, the Association of Medical School Department Chairs, the Society for Pediatric Research, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American College of Surgeons, among others.

Far too many children in our Nation already lack access to a pediatrician or doctor trained in a pediatric subspecialty. Without CHGME, we will once again be discouraging medical residents from choosing pediatrics.

On a personal note, nearly 2 years ago, I met Anna Lipsman, who was receiving treatment for leukemia at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Today, thanks to the excellent care she received, she is happy, energetic and in school full time. She continues to remind me about what is really at stake.

I urge all of my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on H.R. 297 and reserve the balance of my time.


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