Reps. LaMalfa and Trahan Lead Bipartisan Call for Additional Funding for Teaching Health Centers

Sep 13, 2019
Press Release
(Washington, DC) – Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Lori Trahan (D-MA) issued the following statement after leading 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 urged them to increase the amount of funding available to it, which is critically needed to stabilize the program.
 
LaMalfa said: “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 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, 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.”
 
Trahan said: “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.”
 
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 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.
 
“The THCGME program has become one of the most innovative and successful programs that focuses on training primary care physicians in rural and inner-urban medically underserved areas. With the projected shortage of primary care physicians in the tens of thousands in the United States, we need more targeted residency training programs like those funded by the THCGME program. For communities like Redding and the rural areas of Shasta County, California, only by ‘growing our own’ do we have the prospect of meeting the medical needs of our communities and this only happens with stable, sufficient, and longer-term funding that we are hopeful that Congress and the Administration will support.” said Dean Germano, CEO of Shasta Community Health Center in Redding, CA.
 
Congressman Doug LaMalfa is a lifelong farmer representing California’s First Congressional District, including Butte, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou and Tehama Counties.
 
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A signed copy of the letter can be found HERE and, the text can be found below:
 
 
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.
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