FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 5, 2014
Director of Government Relations
Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
President and CEO
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) President and CEO, Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH, today issued the following statement on the release of the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget.
AACOM is both encouraged and discouraged by the President’s latest budget proposal. While we appreciate the Administration’s recognition of the importance of investing in a strong health care workforce, we have serious concerns with the nearly $15 billion proposed funding cut to Medicare graduate medical education (GME). Because GME funding is critical to addressing the existing physician workforce shortage and ensuring patient access to our nation’s health care, AACOM believes that current GME funding should not be sacrificed and simply shifted to other health care workforce programs of importance. Instead, additional investments in GME are critical to an already insufficiently-funded system.
AACOM understands that difficult budget decisions must be made, but the United States is currently experiencing a physician shortage that threatens to deny many Americans access to vital medical care. This shortage is expected to worsen over the coming years, and ensuring there are an adequate number of GME positions to train medical residents to provide care to all Americans must be one of our nation’s highest priorities. Simultaneously, the number of osteopathic medical school graduates is growing and is expected to continue to rise in response to physician workforce shortages. However, without appropriate GME funding, this growth will be stifled, with serious implications for access to health care.
In particular, AACOM strongly supports the continuation of the Teaching Health Center (THC) GME Program, which provides funding to support primary care medical and dental residents training in community-based settings. This program will also provide long-term benefits. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, physicians who train in THCs are three times more likely to work in such centers and more than twice as likely to work in underserved areas as physicians who train in other settings. The THCGME Program’s five-year authorization expires in FY15, but the recruitment of new residents is being impacted now.
AACOM looks forward to working with the Administration and with Congress throughout the appropriations process to ensure that the FY15 federal budget strengthens and continues to invest in GME, as well as other programs of priority to osteopathic medical education, physicians in training, and the larger health care system.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) represents the 30 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States. These colleges are accredited to deliver instruction at 42 teaching locations in 28 states. In the 2013-14 academic year these colleges are educating over 23,000 future physicians – more than 20 percent of US medical students. Six of the colleges are public and 24 are private institutions.
AACOM was founded in 1898 to support and assist the nation's osteopathic medical schools, and to serve as a unifying voice for osteopathic medical education. AACOM’s mission is to promote excellence in osteopathic medical education, in research and in service, and to foster innovation and quality among osteopathic medical colleges to improve the health of the American public.