Smucker Introduces Bill Strengthening Pediatric Workforce

March 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Monday, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.) introduced a bill to strengthen America’s pediatric workforce in the health care industry. 

The Strengthening Our Pediatric Workforce Act (H.R. 1656) will provide grants to existing children’s hospital residency programs to help incorporate initiatives focused on addressing pediatric health disparities into their medical training. This funding will better prepare our current and future residents to treat children dealing with poverty, child abuse, opioid overuse, and access to care issues.

“Far too frequently, inadequate availability of care leaves needy families with few treatment options,” Smucker said. “Many of these people are forced to travel for hours for health care services or end up relying on emergency departments, which are expensive. We need to make sure we are helping the neediest in our communities receive quality health care. This effort starts by ensuring the next generation of doctors are trained to address health disparities to improve care outcomes.”

Larger hospital residency programs are eligible to receive “bonus” payments after incorporating measures to address disparities into their residency training but not every children’s residency program can participate in the bonus program. These programs would help hospitals in rural and medically-underserved communities with medical professional shortages better integrate initiatives to prepare physicians to treat children under their care.

The services are much-needed – 26 percent of children in the U.S. have a chronic health condition such as asthma, obesity or diabetes. One in one in four children meet the criteria for a mental health disorder.

“Paired with the growing physician shortage, these figures make it clear we need to address these disparities and ensure the next generation of physicians is prepared to treat all children in need,” Smucker said. “If we give our residents the skills necessary to tailor their care to these children, we can not only improve long-term health outcomes but we can improve our communities as well.”