AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO David J. Skorton, MD, and Chief Public Policy Officer Karen Fisher, JD, issued the following statement after committees of jurisdiction marked up portions of the Build Back Better Act that included provisions to strengthen the nation’s health care infrastructure:
“The AAMC commends the House committees for including a significant number of academic medicine’s key health infrastructure priorities in the Build Back Better Act that was marked up over the past week. The proposed funding provided for these programs will help diversify the physician workforce, increase access to care for people in underserved urban and rural communities, take steps to prepare the nation to respond to public health emergencies, and address long-standing health inequities.
We applaud the Ways and Means Committee for creating the Pathway to Practice Training Programs in its portion of the Build Back Better Act. Innovative initiatives such as this one would encourage students from communities that are underrepresented in higher education to attend medical school. The programs are also integral to efforts to ensure that all patients – particularly those in rural and other underserved areas – have access to the care they need.
We believe that this exciting new program is a vital component in helping to diversify and expand the physician workforce while increasing access to high-quality and culturally competent care for all patients. To maximize this investment, Congress must also continue to build upon last year’s bipartisan effort to add new Medicare-supported graduate medical education (GME) positions. The COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate impact on underserved communities has reinforced how crucial physicians are to our nation’s health care infrastructure. Partnering the Committee’s Pathways provisions with the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act would help train more doctors to meet both the current and future needs of all people.
We also greatly appreciate the Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Committee’s work to include an additional 700 health professional residency positions at VA medical facilities, and the Energy and Commerce Committee’s investment in various workforce priorities and expansion of the Teaching Health Center and Children’s Hospital GME programs. These training positions, along with those outlined as part of the Pathway to Practice Training Programs, will help recruit providers to vulnerable and underserved communities nationwide.
Additionally, the AAMC is pleased to see the Energy and Commerce Committee’s and Ways and Means Committee’s focus on improving access to care for millions in the Build Back Better Act. The expansion of Medicaid eligibility for individuals who fall into the coverage gap will help millions of uninsured people receive access to coverage that was previously unavailable, and a permanent extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program will ensure that children in low-income families will continue to receive much needed care. The inclusion of a provision that would make the premium tax credits from the American Rescue Plan Act permanent will also help to expand coverage for individuals with low income. Investments in maternal health will help ensure pregnant women on Medicaid will not lose coverage during the critical postpartum first year while also investing to reduce inequities in maternal health.
We welcome the bill’s support for some key preparedness priorities, including modernization and construction of health care facilities and medical schools across the country. We also must strengthen vulnerabilities in the nation’s fragile public health and health care infrastructure laid bare by the pandemic to be better prepared for the next health crisis.
The AAMC looks forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on the proposal to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health and appreciates the investment in innovation. Likewise, we appreciate the investment in community violence interventions, including hospital-based intervention programs.
Finally, the AAMC praises the Judiciary Committee for including a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. This action would ensure that more than 30,000 health providers with DACA status are able to continue their employment, education, training, and research in the United States. Additionally, we applaud the Education and Labor Committee for proposing to allow DACA recipients access to federal student aid, which would provide these students with resources to finance their medical education.
As lawmakers continue the process of drafting and negotiating the contents of the Build Back Better Act, we look forward to working with congressional leaders to ensure that the full complement of tools to diversify and strengthen the physician workforce, improve access to care, and provide critically important research infrastructure investments are brought to bear. We remain committed to working with Congress and the administration to advance priorities that will improve the health of people and communities everywhere.”