As Congress begins its annual process of appropriating funding for various programs, a children's hospital CEO had the opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers about the importance of one such program. On March 8, Jim Shmerling, president and CEO of Connecticut Children's Medical Center, spoke at a Capitol Hill hearing on behalf of Connecticut Children's and CHA about the importance of fully funding the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program (CHGME).
Shmerling testified in front of the House Appropriations subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies as part of its annual outside witness hearing. The hearing plays a key role in informing the development of the government's FY 2018 spending package, and Shmerling was part of a small group selected to testify on behalf of specific programs.
CHGME provides funding to independent children's hospitals to support training of the next generation of the pediatric workforce. Although the 58 hospitals that currently receive CHGME funding comprise only 1 percent of all hospitals, they train half of all pediatric residents—more than 7,000 people annually.
Shmerling asked the subcommittee to fully fund CHGME at $300 million for the year. He said the program will help children's hospitals maintain and expand training programs and protect gains in pediatric health and access to care for children. "Strengthening funding for CHGME will help all children and their families," Shmerling said during his testimony. "Now is the time to take a step forward in pediatric medicine and ensure our children have access to the health care services they need."
Since the program's beginning in 1999, CHGME has enjoyed strong, bipartisan support in Congress under Republican and Democratic leadership. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will recommend funding levels for CHGME and other discretionary programs over the coming weeks.