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Congressman Lloyd Smucker

Representing the 16th District of Pennsylvania

Smucker Introduces Bill to Improve Pediatric Care and Reduce Physician Shortage

September 28, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) is working to improve long-term health outcomes for children and to help ensure children have access to specialized care where and when they need it.

Rep. Smucker, along with Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-02), today introduced the Strengthening Our Pediatric Workforce Act – bipartisan legislation that will help address America’s growing pediatric physician shortage by creating a new grant program for children’s teaching hospitals to make additional residency positions available for pediatric specialists.

“The next generation of medical professionals is eager to provide high-quality medical care to children,” said Rep. Smucker. “We need to ensure pediatric clinics and hospitals have the resources and staff necessary to care for children with many different medical needs. I have heard directly from hospitals, doctors, and other health care professionals about the growing physician shortage in Pennsylvania and across the country. This legislation will help fill those positions and will help place more residents in rural and medically-underserved areas. I am proud to partner with Rep. Evans to introduce this legislation on behalf of the children and families we represent.”

“Our legislation helps to fill a much-needed gap to ensure our children’s hospitals can continue to train the doctors and other specialists who treat and care for our children who suffer from a variety of medical issues,” said Rep. Evans. “Since 1999, the GME funding has provided a critical funding that provides financial stability to teaching institutions. I am proud to stand with my colleague, Rep. Smucker in introducing this critical piece of legislation and I look forward to working with our Pennsylvania colleague to get this bill passed.”

In an April 9, 2017 LNP column, Rep. Smucker promised to “work to ensure that we are expanding opportunities to add highly-trained medical professionals to pediatric staffs across Pennsylvania and nationwide.” This legislation fulfills that promise.

Background

The federal government provides support for graduate medical education (GME) programs to help hospitals cover the costs associated with training medical residents and fellows – the individuals that build a workforce pipeline to ensure we have an adequate number of trained physicians to meet the medical needs of Americans.

Most GME programs are funded through Medicare. However, since children are not Medicare recipients, the children’s hospital GME (CHGME) program is funded through programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Less than one percent of hospitals nationwide receive CHGME funding. According to research conducted by the Children’s Hospital Association, the medical community is facing a severe pediatric physician shortage for specialists in the following areas:

  • Pediatric neurology
  • Behavioral medicine
  • Pediatric gastroenterology
  • Pediatric surgery
  • Pediatric neurosurgery
  • Pediatric emergency medicine
  • Genetics
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Pediatric endocrinology
  • Pediatric pulmonology

Some hospitals have gone one year, or longer, searching for qualified candidates to fill these positions. These vacancies negatively impact the delivery of high-quality care and leave families who are caring for a sick child with no other choice but to travel to a hospital that can provide the care they need, or wait weeks or months to see a specialist. Rep. Smucker’s bill would authorize $10 million annually to the new grant program.

View the bill text here: PDF iconSmucker GME Bill Text.pdf.

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