CINCINNATI, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center at a rally to call for sustained and continued investment in our nation's pediatric workforce.

“It’s critical that we reduce our deficit, but we shouldn’t do it on the backs of medical professionals and the sick children they treat,” Brown said. “The Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education program was created to ensure that more doctors have the training they need to treat our nation's children. This successful program should be funded so that critical work can continue at Ohio institutions like Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati and I will continue to fight to ensure the highest-quality care for Ohio’s children.”

"Adequate funding is essential for children's hospitals to train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists," says Michael Fisher, president and CEO of Cincinnati Children's. "This is a case where a relatively modest public investment does enormous public good."

Each year, Cincinnati Children’s receives more than $11 million through the Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program which ensures more medical training for professionals treating children. The program is eliminated in the President’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2012.

Today, Brown today released a letter he is circulating among his Senate colleagues that urges Health Resources and Services Administration Administrator Mary Wakefield to allocate ample funding for CHGME in the 2012 operating budget. Brown reached out to Senate colleagues to join him in urging Wakefield to protect America’s children and oppose any attempts to defund this critical program.

While serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, Brown authored the Children’s Hospitals Education and Research Act of 1998, which first proposed the CHGME program. In March, Brown led 19 other senators in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) urging him to preserve the funding.

Also speaking at today’s rally were Ndidi Unka, M.D., Chief Resident, Javier Gonzalas Del Ray, M.D Director of Residency Training Programs, and Steven Warrick, M.D. who came to Cincinnati Children’s because of the CHGME program.

Full text of the letter is below.

April XX, 2011

The Honorable Mary Wakefield
Health Resources and Services Administration
Department of Health and Human Services
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857

Dear Administrator Wakefield:

We urge you to allocate sufficient funding for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) to maintain the stability of the program as you determine the operating budget for the Bureau of Health Professions within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  The CHGME program is a critically important program that works to strengthen our pediatric workforce and improves the health of children in every state.  As such, the CHGME program has received long-standing bipartisan support since its creation in 1999.  Unfortunately, the funding level for the CHGME program was not specifically included in the recently-enacted appropriations legislation – leaving the fate of this program in your hands. 

In Fiscal Year 2010, the CHGME program provided funded for the 56 freestanding children’s hospitals throughout the country.  These children’s hospitals train 40 percent of the country’s general pediatricians and 43 percent of the pediatric specialists.  If funding for this program were reduced or eliminated, the ability to adequately and fully train pediatricians would be in jeopardy. 

Prior to the establishment of the CHGME program, our nation experienced a significant decline in pediatric residencies.  Since its enactment in 1999, this program has enabled children’s hospitals to reverse some of the declines we experienced and to increase their training by 35 percent.  However, despite some of our important advances, the shortage of pediatric doctors still persists in many parts of our country.  These shortages delay the ability of children to gain access to timely care.  No child should have to wait days, weeks, or months to see a doctor. 

We look forward to working with HRSA to ensure sustained and adequate funding for the CHGME program so that children’s health is not jeopardized.