by Joyce Frieden
WASHINGTON — Healthcare training programs in underserved urban and rural areas may have to shut down if they are not reauthorized by the end of the month, leaders of several healthcare groups said Wednesday.
“We have to shine a light on this because it will be a major step backwards if these programs go unfunded,” Jack Ende, MD, president of the American College of Physicians and an internist practicing in west Philadelphia, said at an event here sponsored by the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), a coalition of payers, providers, consumers, and other healthcare groups.
The healthcare workforce programs whose funding runs out on Sept. 30 include:
- National Health Service Corps: Provides scholarships and loan forgiveness to nearly 10,500 primary care medical, dental, and mental health professionals serving in underserved areas. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided $1.5 billion in funding for this program during fiscal years 2011 through 2015; the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) then provided $310 million each year for fiscal 2016 and 2017.
- Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program: Trains primary care residents in outpatient care at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and tribal health centers. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the program trained 732 residents. The program started with a 5-year appropriation of $240 million in fiscal 2011 as part of the ACA; funding was extended through MACRA in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 at a rate of $60 million per year.
- Primary Care Training and Enhancement grants: Provides enhanced training to primary care clinicians, teachers, and researchers; it trained just over 1,000 residents and fellows in the 2015-2016 year. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal includes a cut of $403 million from workforce funding programs, including all of the funding for this program.
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