With only a day before Congress breaks for an election-season recess, the House of Representatives today passed H.R. 5574 to reauthorize the federal Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Program for fiscal years 2007 through 2011, providing $330 million for each year. The program supports the physician teaching programs of the nation’s 60 independent children’s teaching hospitals.
“Children’s hospitals applaud the leadership of Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, as sponsor of H.R. 5574, as well as Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the ranking member of the subcommittee and the bill’s original cosponsor. Deal and Brown were joined by 20 other members of the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee as cosponsors,” said Lawrence A. McAndrews, president and CEO of the National Association of Children’s Hospitals (NACH). “We also are indebted to the long-standing leadership of Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Deborah Pryce (R-OH) as the sponsor and original cosponsor, along with Rep. Brown, of the initial CHGME reauthorization legislation introduced in the House in 2005.”
“We appreciate the fact that Congress rallied to vote on the reauthorization of CHGME before breaking for recess, sharing our view on how important this program is to the training of pediatricians and to children’s health care,” said Mary Dean.
The House passage came two days after the Senate’s unanimous passage of the bill. The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), chair of the Senate HELP Committee, joined by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), the committee’s ranking member, and Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO). “We are equally grateful to the Senate champions,” McAndrews added, “and the leadership of the original Senate sponsor and original cosponsors of CHGME reauthorization — Sens. Bond, Kennedy, Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Patty Murray (D-WA), as well as Chairman Enzi.”
“Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland also thanks the more than 165 Representatives and 20 Senators who also cosponsored and worked for the reauthorization of this important program,” said Mary Dean. “We are especially grateful to Representatives Barbara Lee, George Miller, Richard Pombo, Pete Stark, Ellen Tauscher, Mike Thompson and Lynn Woolsey along with Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein for their ongoing support of physician training programs at children’s hospitals and their votes in favor of CHGME.”
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.
“Independent children’s teaching hospitals such as Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provide half or more of the specialty hospital care for all children with the most serious health conditions, such as cancer or heart defects. They house the nation’s premier pediatric research centers, and they are the safety net for the children of low-income families in their communities.”