- With the passage of HR 2, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, the teaching health center graduate medical education (THCGME) program will receive 2 additional years of funding.
The Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program, currently administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), provides funding to support an increase in primary care medical and dental residents training in community-based settings across the country. Teaching Health Centers (THCs) are community-based primary care training programs committed to preparing physicians to meet the community’s health needs. By moving training into the community, THCs are on the leading edge of innovative educational programming dedicated to ensuring a sufficient supply of primary care physicians.
A THC is defined as an entity that:
- is a community-based, ambulatory patient care center, and
- operates a primary care residency program.
THCs may be federally qualified health centers, community mental health centers, rural health clinics, health centers operated by the Indian Health Service (IHS), an Indian tribe or tribal organization, or an urban Indian organization, and other outpatient clinics. The THCGME program was funded at $230 million for fiscal years 2011 to 2015, and it expires on October 1, 2015.
Benefits of THCs
This program is directly addressing the serious shortage of primary care physicians. Residents trained in THCs are well prepared for primary care practice in community settings, and data show that training in underserved communities increases the likelihood that these residents will choose to practice in similar settings upon graduation. Research also demonstrates that family physicians usually practice within 100 miles of their residency program, so decentralized training can be expected to help remedy the uneven distribution of physicians.
Need for Immediate Reauthorization and Ongoing Funding
Without Congressional action to reauthorize and extend the program, it will cease to exist at the end of September (the end of FY2015).
This is an important and productive program; it should be funded sustainably. Congress should provide for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program this year to prevent a disruption in the pipeline of primary care physician production.