The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the Children’s Hospital Graduate Education Program (CHGME) this week. This vital program trains physicians who are on the front lines of treating our nation’s children.

Funded last year at $300 million, the program is the nation’s greatest single investment in our pediatric workforce. CHGME was created in 1999 as Congress recognized that a dedicated source of support for training in children’s hospitals was necessary to strengthen the pediatric workforce. Since then, CHGME funding has enabled children’s hospitals to dramatically increase training overall, and, in particular, grow the supply of pediatric specialists.

According to testimony provided to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, between 2000 and 2015, hospitals supported by CHGME increased the number of residents trained by 113 percent.1

Unfortunately, even with this investment, the program has only funded the residency of only 40 percent of the general pediatric residencies across the nation. It also only funds approximately 50 percent of the of all pediatric specialists, approximately 7,000 annually.

First Focus is thankful for this vitally important hearing, especially for shining a light on the need to train more sub-specialists, where there is a greater need.2

Based on data by the American Medical Association, the number of programs around the country fall short of meeting the nation’s need. For instance, there are only 73 pediatric emergency medicine programs around the country that trained 463 residents in 2015. During that same year, there were only 125 child and adolescent psychiatry programs training 787 residents.3

This has also caused children to spend a significant amount of time before meeting with a specialist. For instance, children with developmental disabilities wait, on average over 18 weeks for an appointment. 4 Children requiring psychiatric services are waiting close to 10 weeks. 5

CHGME is a discretionary program that has to date received bi-partisan support. It has also provided considerably less than what the nation requires. This country can do more for our children. While we invest in the other systems of development for our children, let’s make sure kids with the most need can see a doctor best suited for them.

1 Testimony by Gordon E. Schutze M.D. F.A.A.P., Baylor College of Medicine to the House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce.

2 Children’s Hospital Association

3 American Medical Association  2015 Data

4 Children’s Hospital Association

5 Children’s Hospital Association