Funding Included for Critical Health Programs, THCGME and NHSC
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager
(Washington, DC)–Early this morning, Congress passed a bipartisan budget deal to raise budgetary caps, providing $131 billion in relief for essential non-defense discretionary programs over the next two years, the largest domestic spending increase since the 2009 stimulus package. The deal suspends the debt ceiling through March 1, 2019 and funds the federal government through March 23 of this year, when legislators are expected to finalize an omnibus spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2018. AACOM applauds the
bipartisan effort of the House and Senate for their inclusion of funding for both the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Program and the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), programs of vital importance to the osteopathic medical education community.
The THCGME Program is funded at $126.5 million for FY18 and 19, and the NHSC will be funded at $310 million per year over the next two fiscal years. The measure also allocates $6 billion to states to address the nation’s opioid epidemic; provides a two-year extension for Community Health Centers; grants four additional years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, safeguarding it for the next decade; and makes available important funding for disaster aid efforts.
The THCGME Program provides abiding benefits and is critical to ensure the stability and continuity of the nation’s medical residency training programs. It provides funding for primary care medical and dental residents training in community-based settings, and the majority of currently funded medical residency programs are osteopathic or dually-accredited (DO/MD). The continuation of this program is critical to addressing primary care physician workforce shortages and delivering health care services to underserved communities most in need. Eighty-two percent of medical residents who enter this program ultimately fill much-needed primary care positions, and 55 percent remain in medically underserved communities. Although this is an important and necessary short-term solution, AACOM will continue to advocate for the permanency of this program.
The NHSC encourages residents to train in high-need areas, where most go on to practice. With an inequitable distribution of health care professionals across the country, we commend Congress’s action to support and fund a program that helps recruit and retain physicians in locations where shortages are most severe.
AACOM is disappointed that the fate of the “Dreamers,” the undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. as children, remains unaddressed. We urge Congress to seek an immediate legislative solution prior to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program’s (DACA) expiration in March. We will continue to work with policymakers to support a long-term solution on DACA, as well as to create a stable future for our country’s critical health programs, so they have consistent and sustained funding to serve patients across the nation.
The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) represents the 34 accredited colleges of osteopathic medicine in the United States. These colleges are accredited to deliver instruction at 49 teaching locations in 32 states. In the current academic year, these colleges are educating nearly 29,000 future physicians—more than 20 percent of all U.S. medical students. Six of the colleges are public and 28 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.