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Letter to House Appropriations Subcommittee

August 29, 2002

The Honorable Ralph Regula
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services,
Education, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
2358 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The undersigned members of the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC) urge you to support increased funding for the health professions programs in the FY 2003 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill. HPNEC, an alliance of organizations representing a variety of schools, programs, providers, and community-based initiatives dedicated to educating health professions personnel, recommends $550 million in FY 2003 for the Title VII and VIII health professions programs. This amount will enable these programs to fulfill their mission of training a health professions workforce that meets the health care needs of the public.

We are deeply concerned by the 72 percent cut proposed by the Administration for the health professions and nursing education programs. The budget provides only a minimal increase to the Title VIII nursing programs, and eliminates funding for all Title VII health professions programs, with the exception of $10 million for the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and $1 million for workforce information and analysis. Recently, the Senate appropriations committee provided just $160 million for Title VII health professions training. Although this is $149 million more than the amount requested in the President's budget, it is still $135 million less than the FY 2002 level. A funding cut of this magnitude would cripple the Title VII programs, which already are straining under current funding levels to meet the demand for well-trained, quality health professionals.

Title VII programs provide essential support in addressing the growing shortages of pediatric dentists, pharmacists, medical laboratory personnel, allied health and public health professionals in areas throughout the country where vacancy rates of some professions have climbed as high as 40 percent. Also, while we are grateful for the Senate committee action on the Title VIII programs, we remain concerned that additional funding for Title VIII is required to alleviate the nursing shortage crisis considering these programs are the major source of federal support for nurse training and education.


The Title VII and VIII programs increase the number of providers and enhance the diversity of the healthcare workforce by recruiting and training more underrepresented minorities. Consequently, reports state that the graduates of these programs are 3 to 10 times more likely to practice in medically underserved areas than graduates of non-funded programs, and at times, they serve as the only source of health care in many disadvantaged communities.

While there are many competing interests that must be considered in the FY 2003 budget, a top priority for Americans is access to quality health care, and the health professions and nursing education programs are a critical element in providing this access. The members of HPNEC urge you to consider the importance of these programs while configuring the Labor-HHS budget. Thank you for your continued efforts to improve health care in this country.

Sincerely,

Ambulatory Pediatric Association
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
American Academy of Pediatrics
American Academy of Physician Assistants
American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine
American College of Preventive Medicine
American Dental Association
American Dental Education Association
American Dental Hygienists' Association
American Geriatrics Society
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Pediatric Society
American Physical Therapy Association
American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science
American Society for Clinical Pathology
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of Departments of Family Medicine
Association of Family Practice Residency Directors
Association of Medical School Pediatric Department Chairs
Association of Minority Health Professions Schools
Association of Professors of Medicine
Association of Program Directors in Internal Medicine
Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions
Association of Schools of Public Health
Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine
Association of University Programs in Health Administration
Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Clerkship Directors in Internal Medicine
Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools, Inc.
NAADAC - The Association for Addiction Professionals
National Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) Organization
National Association of Geriatric Education Centers
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Rural Health Association
North American Primary Care Research Group
Recruitment, Admissions and Retention Program, Temple University School
of Medicine
Society for Pediatric Research
Society of General Internal Medicine
Society of Teachers of Family Medicine