Pediatric Residency Funding At Risk

Margaret Dick Tocknell, August 5, 2011

Legislation to reauthorize the funding for the Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education program is now expected to be considered in a Senate committee when Congress returns after Labor Day.

What's at stake is $330 million in funding to help cover the cost of 5,600 pediatric residencies at 56 free-standing children's hospitals across the country, which train 40% of the nation's pediatricians and 43% of pediatric sub-specialists. A spokes person for one children's hospital, which did not want to be identified, said the funding is necessary to support the training for certain pediatric specialties that remain in short supply. She noted that a five-week wait for an appointment is not unusual for pediatric specialty services in pulmonology, neurology, and endocrinology.

Supporters had hoped that S 958 would pass out of Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) this week, so that it could be scheduled for a Senate floor vote early in September. Instead the bill will have a mark-up session in the HELP committee on Sept. 7just three weeks shy of the expiration of it current appropriation.

The House companion bill, H.R. 1852, passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in late July. A full House vote of that bill was delayed while the Congress debated the debt ceiling.

HealthLeaders Media contacted the HELP offices in an effort to identify a timeline for the Senate bill but staffers declined to comment on a potential time period when S 958 might go before the full Senate. Efforts to reach a spokesperson for the House bill were unsuccessful.

Margaret Dick Tocknell Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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