Press Releases

Representatives Trahan and LaMalfa Lead Bipartisan Call For Additional Funding For Teaching Health Centers

Washington, September 13, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) lead a bipartisan call to increase funding for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. In a letter sent to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone and Ranking Member Greg Walden, Representatives Trahan and LaMalfa thanked the committee for reauthorizing the THCGME program and urged them to consider increasing the amount of funding available to it, which is critically needed to stabilize this valuable program.

 

There are 56 teaching health centers funded by the THCGME program that train more than 700 medical residents to become primary care physicians in underserved rural and urban communities across the country. As part of their residency training, these students help to provide health care services to an estimated one million patients annually. The Greater Lawrence Family Health Center in Lawrence, MA – the only such facility in Massachusetts – was also the first teaching health center in the United States.

 

“Every day across the United States, vulnerable populations gain access to life-saving medical care through teaching health centers in their communities. Not only are they providing for the immediate needs of those requiring assistance, but these institutions are playing an invaluable role in developing the next generation of primary care physicians for our underserved regions, setting the stage for long-term improvements in public health. I’ve seen firsthand the positive impact these facilities can have through the work of the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, and I am proud to fight for the resources that I know these centers need to build on that success,” said Congresswoman Trahan.

 

“Teaching Health Centers are an invaluable tool to help fill the void of primary care physicians in rural areas like Northern California. Not only do they fill an immediate need for medical care, but this program also helps rural areas to develop our own physicians that can be a presence in our communities for the long haul. Teaching Health Centers, like Shasta Community Health Center in Redding, CA, provide much-needed stability in communities in California and across America – and we need to provide them with the funding stability they need in order to continue serving our area’s short-term and long-term medical needs,” said Representative LaMalfa.

 

“Greater Lawrence Family Health Center not only prides itself in being the first teaching health center of its kind, but most importantly that our Lawrence Family Medicine Residency program has graduated close to 200 family medicine physicians over the years, thereby directly adding to our nations primary care workforce shortage in a meaningful and impactful way. The teaching health center funding is so important to meeting the demands of our primary care workforce both locally and nationally in our mission to provide access to quality healthcare to our 29 million patients and more throughout the nation,” said John M. Silva, President and CEO, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center.

 

“The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, over the past 9 years, has demonstrated consistently that training doctors in community-based settings results in a dramatic increase in the number of doctors continuing to practice primary care after residency, especially in rural and urban underserved areas which.  We are extremely thankful for Congresswoman Trahan and Congressman’s LaMalfa leadership and urge consideration of increasing funding for new programs and immediate reauthorization, as the program is set to expire on September 30, 2019.  These programs, such as Greater Lawrence Family Health Center and Shasta Community Health Center, are imperative to addressing our Nation’s current and increasing shortage of primary care physicians,” said Cristine Serrano, Executive Director, American Association of Teaching Health Centers.

 

Signers include: Representatives Lori Trahan*, Doug LaMalfa*, Xochitl Torres Small, TJ Cox, Brian Fitzpatrick, Terri A. Sewell, Raúl M. Grijalva, Susan Davis, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nydia Velázquez, Adriano Espaillat, José E. Serrano, Donald M. Payne, Jr., Antonio Delgado, Ayanna Pressley, Cindy Axne, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Josh Harder, Alcee L. Hastings, David Trone, Andy Levin, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., Ann Kirkpatrick, Steve Stivers, Derek Kilmer, Daniel W. Lipinski, Haley M. Stevens, Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., Ro Khanna, Mary Gay Scanlon, Matt Cartwright, Dan Newhouse, Al Green, Steve Cohen, Kim Schrier, M.D., Kendra S. Horn, Rick Larsen, Jared Golden, Denny Heck, Albio Sires, Lucille Roybal-Allard,  Abby Finkenauer, Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Suzanne Bonamici, and Danny K. Davis.

 

Endorsing organizations include: American Association of Teaching Health Centers, National Association of Community Health Centers, American Academy of Family Physicians, Council of Academic Family Medicine, American Osteopathic Association, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, and Society of General Internal Medicine.

 

A copy of the letter can be found HERE and, the text can be found BELOW:

 

September ___, 2019

 

The Honorable Frank Pallone                                    
Chairman                                                                   
Committee on Energy and Commerce                     
U.S. House of Representatives                     
Washington, DC  20515        

           

The Honorable Greg Walden
Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives         
Washington, DC  20515

 

Dear Chairman Pallone and Ranking Member Walden:

 

As Members of Congress who support the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, we are grateful for the inclusion of a four-year reauthorization of this program in H.R. 2328.  A four-year extension will be invaluable given the minimum three-year length of most THC residencies.  We also appreciate that the bill reported out of Committee preserved the current $126.5 million funding level.  H.R. 2328 will provide much-needed stability to the 56 THCs around the country and to the 737 medical residents currently training to become primary care physicians, thereby providing health care services to an estimated one million patients annually in underserved rural and urban communities.

 

            Many communities would benefit substantially from having a THC to respond to the crisis of physician shortages.  We respectfully request that if resources become available, the reauthorization of THCGME will include additional funding that will allow for greater expansion of the program into rural and urban underserved communities.  Residents who train in THCs are more likely to remain in underserved areas after completing their residencies, which in turn, helps to increase access to health care in communities that do not have an adequate number of providers.  In short, this is a program that works and would be very meaningful to many more communities around the nation.

 

As you continue to work on this legislation in preparation for consideration by the full House and in your subsequent negotiations with the Senate, we would be grateful if you could continue to contemplate providing additional funds should they become available. These funds would permit existing THCs to recruit for all authorized residency slots and facilitate a modest increase in the per resident allocation that THCs will receive from the Department of Health and Human Services over the next four years.

 

We appreciate your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

 

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