Politicians Fight To Save Pediatric Training Program Axed In Obama Budget

This is the kind of productive program that gets axed once Democrats catch that Geithner/Republican spending-cut fever, and it's just sickening. I don't think anyone disagrees that more pediatric specialists are needed

The Obama administration’s bid to slash funding for training pediatricians at children’s hospitals is provoking intense protests from medical educators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Earlier this year, the administration, as part of its 2012 budget, proposed terminating a program that provides more than $300 million a year to the 56 free-standing children’s hospitals around the country, which train 40 percent of the nation’s pediatricians and 43 percent of pediatric sub-specialists. In addition, it cut $48 million from the program this month as part of the overall spending reductions for the current year that were in the budget agreement reached with Congress.

But children’s hospitals officials say ending the 12-year program, called the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education payment program, or CHGME, could cause a raft of problems.

“I can certainly envision a scenario where we just can’t train enough folks,” said Josh Greenberg, vice president for government relations for Children’s Hospital Boston. “I think there’s a real danger that a confluence of factors is going to make access to care for kids incredibly difficult.”

[...] The program was enacted in 1999 to provide children’s hospitals with funding for residencies and fellowships, the training that physicians get in a hospital once they leave medical school. Although Medicare and other federal programs also provide funding for residencies, the bulk of the money goes to hospitals generally serving adults.

Since the program was put into place, the number of pediatric residents has increased 35 percent, said James Kaufman, vice president for public policy for the National Association of Children’s Hospitals. That was a reversal of the 13 percent decline in the 1990s. Much of the increase, he said, is attributable to a rise in the training of pediatric sub-specialists.


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