WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced new legislation today that would address the shortage of pediatricians in underserved areas. The Pediatric Workforce Investment Act, which is also cosponsored by Sens. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Bob Casey (D-PA), would create a loan reimbursement program to encourage more physicians to provide pediatric care.
“It’s critical that all children have access to quality medical care,” Brown said. “Too many communities face severe shortages of specialty pediatricians. This bill is about recruiting more pediatric specialists so that our nation’s children receive the care they need.”
Nationwide, there are only 28,000 pediatric specialists to provide care for more than 80 million children. Fewer doctors entering pediatric training, coupled with an aging workforce, has resulted in a critical demand outpacing the availability of pediatric care.
In the last decade, the pediatric population has experienced a dramatic increase in the prevalence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma, depression, diabetes, and other diseases among children. Despite advances in medical and surgical care that have resulted in improved treatment for infants and children, a shortage of specialty pediatricians threatens to prevent children from receiving medical care they need.
The Pediatric Workforce Investment Act would create a loan reimbursement program for health professionals providing pediatric medical subspecialty, surgical specialty, or psychiatric subspecialty care in an area with a shortage of such physicians. Eligible physicians would receive up to $35,000 for each year they work in underserved areas.
The bill is supported by national health care advocacy organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Association of Children’s Hospitals, and American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. A complete list of supporters can be found below:
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- National Association of Children’s Hospitals
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Academy of Ophthalmology
- American College of Rheumatology
- North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition
- American Society of Pediatric Nephrology
- Child Neurology Society
- American Association of Neurological Surgeons
- American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons
- Congress of Neurological Surgeons
- AANS/CNS Section on Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Brown has been a strong advocate in Congress for children’s health care issues. In March, he joined a bipartisan group of senators to introduce the Children’s Health Protection Act of 2009, which would ensure that children suffering from serious illnesses have access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage. More information about the bill that would also prohibit insurers from imposing pre-existing condition limitations on children before they reach the age of 25 can be found here.