FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2020
Advocacy and Public Affairs Manager
Office of Government Relations
(Washington, DC) – The American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) is disheartened with the Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget proposal, which includes deep cuts to research, public health programs, federal student financial aid and loan forgiveness, and graduate medical education (GME), all of which are vital to educating the next generation of osteopathic physicians and improving patient health across the nation.
Consolidating and establishing fixed funding levels for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Hospital GME would prevent these critical programs from automatically responding when needs increase and exacerbate physician shortages, particularly in underserved communities. At a time when many patients in the U.S. already struggle to access health care, investments should instead be made to expand GME. While AACOM appreciates the Administration’s inclusion of Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program funding, long-term, increased support is crucial to ensuring stability for this highly successful program that recruits and retains primary care physicians in geographic areas most in need and that has received bipartisan support from Congress.
The President’s FY21 budget would also severely diminish Title VII and Title VIII health professions education training programs—proposing a $484 million, or 66 percent, decrease from FY20 levels—while eliminating important pipeline programs such as the Area Health Education Centers and grants for primary care and public health and preventive medicine training.
In addition, under this framework, the U.S. Department of Education would face a $5.6 billion budget cut. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program would be eliminated and the Grad PLUS Loan Program would be capped at $50,000 annually, with an aggregate limit of $100,000. Eliminating PSLF would decrease patient access to primary care, especially in rural and underserved areas, and capping Grad PLUS would be a detriment to a diverse physician workforce, limiting access to higher education. AACOM encourages all of its members to engage with the ED to MED campaign and join in the strong collective effort to #SavePSLF and #SaveGradPLUS.
AACOM is pleased to see a funding increase to combat the country’s opioid epidemic, including the proposed $120 million for the National Health Service Corps’ opioid and substance use disorder treatment programs, yet is troubled by the drastic cuts proposed for the National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The continued federal investment in research is crucial to finding evidence-based solutions for pain management and improving the lives of those impacted by this devastating crisis.
As Congress negotiates the FY21 funding bills, we urge legislators to renounce these cuts and work in a bipartisan manner to invest in a robust, patient-centered workforce as a critical component of a strong health care system.