AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement regarding legislation extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and critical workforce programs administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and a delay in the onset of Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) payment cuts:
“The legislation pending before the House this week represents an important milestone toward extending funding for the CHIP program and critical workforce programs administered by HRSA. The AAMC is grateful to Chairman Walden for his leadership in bring this legislation to the floor. We also thank members on both sides of the aisle, in particular Ranking Member Frank Pallone and Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess and Ranking Member Gene Green, for their steadfast support for these programs, upon which millions of Americans rely.
The five-year extension of the CHIP program will provide critical health care coverage to our nation’s children. Additionally, the continued funding for HRSA’s National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program, two key elements of our nation’s broader efforts to address shortages of physicians and other health professionals, will enable residents to continue their training and help to avoid the nation’s projected shortage of up to 104,900 doctors by 2030.
We are also grateful to see a two-year delay of the Medicaid DSH payment cuts. The Medicaid DSH program was created in 1981 to help safety net hospitals provide care to low-income or uninsured patients. Major teaching hospitals represent only five percent of all hospitals, but provide more than $2 billion in uncompensated care each year. Without a delay, DSH hospitals will face a cut of $2 billion in FY 2018 which would hamper services to our most vulnerable patients and weaken the safety net. We thank the Committee for working to avert these consequences, and we stand ready to work with all parties to build on this proposal, including averting severe funding cliffs.
While we understand the need to offset the cost of this legislation, and recognize the difficulty in finding bipartisan options to pay for these critical programs, we also wish to register concern that the package repurposes funds from the Prevention and Public Health Fund as an offset. The Prevention Fund is a critical source of funding for essential health programs that help keep communities healthy and safe. As the opioid epidemic continues to grow, and the threat of emerging infectious disease outbreaks remains, we are concerned that continuing to divert resources away from the Prevention Fund will undermine ongoing efforts to address these challenges.
Because funding for CHIP and the HRSA workforce programs has lapsed, and the Medicaid DSH cuts were scheduled to go into effect October 1, enactment of legislation is more urgent now than ever. As the process moves forward, the AAMC stands ready to work with all parties and stakeholders on these important priorities.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.