Medical groups warn sequestration will hurt teaching hospitals, research

If Congress doesn't work together prevent the upcoming sequestration, patient care and medical research will be severely jeopardized, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), along with more than 40 specialty physician groups, warn in a new report.

The group outlines several areas where it contends sequestration would undermine health care and the Health Resources and Services Administration's efforts to improve the "supply, diversity and distribution of the healthcare workforce" in fiscal 2013. These include:

  • Fewer underserved and uninsured seniors receiving care.
  • Fewer healthcare providers receiving continuing education on subjects such as women's health, diabetes and obesity.
  • Reduced funding for primary-care physician and PA assistant-trainees.
  • Fewer academic enrichment opportunities.
  • Fewer disadvantaged K-16 students getting career guidance.

Writing in The Hill's Congress Blog, AAMC president and CEO Darrell G. Kirsch describes the case of an Iraq War veteran receiving a rare double-arm transplant, made possible by the work of surgeons from Johns Hopkins, a teaching hospital, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Teaching hospitals occupy a "unique space" in the U.S. healthcare system, Kirsch writes, including as a site for groundbreaking medical research and procedures.

"If sequestration takes effect, these cuts will disproportionately impact the nation's medical schools and teaching hospitals and the patients they serve," he writes. "Only 6 percent of hospitals, major teaching hospitals, and their medical school physicians provide more than 20 percent of all hospital care in this country, 41 percent of hospital charity care, 20 percent of care to Medicare patients, and 25 percent of care to Medicaid patients."

Earlier this year, funding for teaching hospitals and physicians was called into question by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who urged the White House to issue a final rule on the Physician Payment Sunshine Act, which requires disclosure of gifts exceeding $10.  

To learn more:
- check out the full AAMC report
- check the The Hill's Congress Blog post

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