The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to Receive Strong Federal Support to Train Children's Physicians; Congress Appropriates $285 Million for Children's Teaching Hospitals

12/24/2001

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- In a show of bipartisan unity and support for children's health, Congress has passed the FY 2002 Labor/HHS Appropriations Bill providing $285 million for independent children's teaching hospitals such as The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to train children's physicians.

"Congress has clearly demonstrated its bipartisan support for children's hospitals and for the future of children's health care. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is extremely grateful to Congress, especially Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Philadelphia), Representative James Greenwood (R-Montgomery County) and others of the Pennsylvania delegation for remaining steadfast in their commitment to ensure first-rate medical care for all children," said Steven M. Altschuler, M.D., president and chief executive officer of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "This federal support is critical to our mission of providing the highest quality of training to the next generation of pediatricians."

The federal appropriation is $50 million more than FY 2001 and achieves the program's original, 1999 authorized funding amount of $285 million. As The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and children's hospitals nationwide strive to sustain clinical care, education and research missions while facing significant financial challenges due to cuts in state Medicaid programs, the news of new federal support for graduate medical education (GME) comes at a critical time.

"Independent teaching hospitals, like The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, will now receive a level of federal support for physician training that is much more comparable to what adult teaching hospitals receive under Medicare," said Dr. Altschuler.

In September, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) carried out the FY 2001 $235 million appropriation by awarding 57 children's teaching hospitals federal payments for their GME programs.

An inequitable gap in the way the federal government invests in GME programs at adult hospitals versus children's hospitals has long been a serious cause for concern among child advocates. Nearly 30 percent of the nation's pediatricians and 50 percent of all pediatric specialists are trained at independent children's teaching hospitals. Furthermore, children's hospitals are often the only source of care in a regional area for many critical pediatric services.

As managed care moved into the health care marketplace, traditional sources of GME support for all teaching hospitals began to dry up, leaving Medicare the one remaining, significant source of federal funding. Left largely outside of this funding stream because they treat children, not the elderly, many children's teaching hospitals began to face difficult choices, such as continuing their GME programs at the expense of closing other important community service programs, such as child abuse prevention or other specialty services.

"Physician training, pediatric research and clinical care in children's teaching hospitals are intertwined and dependent upon one another," said Lawrence A. McAndrews, president and CEO of the National Association of Children's Hospitals. "The work these institutions do to advance the health and well-being of children, from developing new asthma treatments to protective vaccines, truly benefits all families in America and beyond."

Founded in 1855 as the nation's first pediatric hospital, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia is ranked today as the best pediatric hospital in the nation by a comprehensive Child magazine survey. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children's Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking second in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 381-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents from before birth through age 19.

CONTACT: Lisa Packer of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, +1-215-590-4092.