Funding for children's hospitals passes U.S. Congress
September 28, 2006
Boston, Mass. -- In one of its most important votes of the year for children's health care, Congress passed legislation today to reauthorize the federal Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Program through 2011, with an annual funding cap of $330 million. The program supports physician training in the nation's 60 independent children's teaching hospitals.
"We are especially grateful to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) for his support of this program. He helped to create the original program in 2000, has lead the fight for funding among his colleagues each year, and has been very focused on assuring passage of this legislation extending the program in this session," said James Mandell, MD, president and CEO of Children's Hospital Boston.
"This Congressional action demonstrates strong, bipartisan support for investing in the future of health care for all children," said Lawrence A. McAndrews, president and CEO of the National Association of Children's Hospitals (N.A.C.H.).
The Senate unanimously approved the legislation earlier this week. This afternoon, the House followed suit on a voice vote.
Congress established the CHGME program in 1999 and renewed it for five years in 2000 to provide equitable federal GME support to independent children's teaching hospitals. Through Medicare, the federal government is the nation's largest payer of GME, but it provides virtually no GME support to children's hospitals, since they serve children.
As a result, in 1998, children's hospitals received less than 1/200th (.50 percent) of the federal GME support that other teaching hospitals received. This inequity created a gap of about $285 million in federal GME support for children's hospitals, which put them at a serious competitive risk, at a time when the nation was beginning to witness serious shortages in its pediatric workforce. Congress created CHGME to close that gap. For 2006, Congress appropriated $297 million, which amounts to about 80 percent of the level of federal GME support other hospitals receive through Medicare.
"CHGME does more than just provide indispensable support for training of the nation's pediatric workforce," added Mandell. "It also represents an investment in the well-being of all children, because it supports children's hospitals, the backbone of health care for children in the United States."
Children's Hospital Boston is home to the world's largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center, where its discoveries have benefited both children and adults since 1869. More than 500 scientists, including eight members of the National Academy of Sciences, nine members of the Institute of Medicine and 11 members of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute comprise Children's research community. Founded as a 20-bed hospital for children, Children's Hospital Boston today is a 347-bed comprehensive center for pediatric and adolescent health care grounded in the values of excellence in patient care and sensitivity to the complex needs and diversity of children and families. Children's also is the primary pediatric teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information about the hospital and its research visit: www.childrenshospital.org/newsroom.
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