Hospital, pediatric lobbies ask for more GME funding

Hospital and pediatrics lobbies are pushing the Obama administration for a small increase in graduate medical education funding at children's hospitals.

GME funding for children's hospitals was slashed from $317.5 million in 2010 to what was $265 million in the 2015 fiscal year, according to AHA News Now. The American Hospital Association, Children's Hospital Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics want the government to commit $300 million for fiscal 2016.

The funding of graduate medical education (GME) by the federal government has been a bit of a sore point in recent years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spends about $15 billion a year on GME. Some critics say that the money mostly allows hospitals to subsidize young medical staff who are paid at the much lower salaries of residents and interns.

A report released last year by the Institute of Medicine concluded that while funding must be maintained for GME programs, it must come attached with the ability to survey the quality of the training being provided, as well as ensure that enough residents in needed specialties are trained in order to meet projected future clinical demand.

A letter to President Barack Obama from the lobbying groups suggested that demand for pediatric services would not be met without additional funding of GME in that field.

"The effects of continued diminished support for pediatric training are felt by children and their families. Serious pediatric workforce shortages persist, most acutely among pediatric subspecialties. Localized shortages of pediatric primary care also continue, particularly in certain rural areas," said the letter.

"There are also several pediatric specialties at risk of sustaining tremendous losses as the current workforce retires and not enough new specialists are trained. Additionally, cuts have slowed the ability to grow in areas of need, which will result in fewer pediatric subspecialists across the country."

To learn more:
- read the AHA News Now article 
- check out the letter (.pdf)