Ann Miller, Media Relations
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News Release

All Children's Hospital Thanks Florida Congressional Delegation

(July 7, 2006) St. Petersburg, FL – Thanks in part to the unanimous backing of Florida’s Congressional delegation, All Children’s Hospital can continue its unique role as west central Florida’s teacher of tomorrow’s physicians for all children.

With bipartisan leadership, the U.S. House of Representatives on June 21 passed, by a vote of 421 – 4, legislation to continue a vital children’s health program that ensures the training of pediatricians and pediatric subspecialists in the nation’s children’s teaching hospitals.

“Congress has made the right decision to continuing to invest in the future of health care for all children,” said Gary Carnes, President & CEO of All Children’s Health System.

Using the suspension calendar reserved for non-controversial legislation, the House passed, by a vote of 421 – 4, H.R. 5574, the Children’s Hospitals GME Support Reauthorization Act, by Reps. Nathan Deal (R-GA) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee.  H.R. 5574 would reauthorize for five more years $300 million annually for the federal Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Program.  Reps. Deal and Brown were joined by 20 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on both sides of the aisle in co-sponsoring the bill. 

H.R. 5574 was unanimously endorsed by the subcommittee on June 8 and the full Energy and Commerce Committee on June 15.   Last year, the Children’s Hospitals Education, Equity and Research Act, was introduced by Reps. Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Deborah Pryce (R-OH), and Brown and secured 168 additional cosponsors in support of reauthorization.  Reps. Johnson, Pryce, and Brown have been champions of the multi-year authorization and annual appropriation of CHGME funding each year since Congress first enacted the program in 1999.

Florida Representatives Ginny Brown-Waite, Mark Foley, Jim Davis, Robert Wexler and Bill Young have been strong supporters of CHGME. All five signed on as co-sponsors of Rep. Johnson’s earlier bill, and were joined by the twenty remaining Florida representatives in voting in favor of H.R. 5574.

“Children’s hospitals are deeply grateful to the bipartisan leadership of the Energy and Commerce Committee and full House for advancing this important legislation and to our own members of Congress for making this program the success it has become for all children,” said Carnes.

H.R. 5574 now moves to a joint House-Senate conference committee, which will be appointed to resolve differences between H.R. 5574 and S. 285, by Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Mike DeWine (R-OH), and Patty Murray (D-WA), plus 18 cosponsors.  That bill, which would authorize $330 million for CHGME, passed the Senate unanimously last year under a similar procedure for non-controversial Senate legislation.

The CHGME program supports the training missions of the nation’s 60 independent children’s teaching hospitals.  Though they represent only one percent of all hospitals, these GME-eligible children’s hospitals train nearly 30 percent of all pediatricians, half of all pediatric subspecialists, and the majority of the nation’s pediatric research scientists.

“CHGME has been a great success,” said Carnes  “Thanks to CHGME support, independent children’s teaching hospitals including All Children’s Hospital have been able to substantially strengthen their training programs in the past five years.” 

At a time of nationwide shortages of pediatric subspecialists, the growth in CHGME hospitals’ training programs accounted for more than 80 percent of all new pediatric subspeciality training programs and more than 65 percent of all new pediatric subspecialists in training.  Had it not been for the growth in CHGME hospitals’ training programs, there would have been a net decline in the number of general pediatricians trained in recent years.

Last year, All Children’s Hospital received $3-million in GME funds. Over the past five years, receipt of CHGME funding has enabled our hospital to strengthen its program without having to sacrifice its clinical or research missions.

In today’s increasingly price competitive health care marketplace, fewer and fewer insurers pay the extra costs of teaching hospitals.  Medicare is the only remaining, major payer of graduate medical education, spending about $8 billion annually.  However, because they care for children, not the elderly, children’s hospitals receive virtually no Medicare GME support – only about 1/200th of what other teaching hospitals receive on average. 

In 1999, Congress recognized that the unintended exclusion of children’s hospitals from Medicare GME support could put the hospitals and the nation’s pediatric workforce at a risk.  In response, it created CHGME to provide a level of federal GME support comparable to what Medicare provides to all teaching hospitals.  Because of CHGME, children’s hospitals in recent years have received about 80 percent of the level of federal GME support other teaching hospitals receive through Medicare.

All Children's Hospital is the only freestanding children’s hospital on Florida’s West Coast.  It has consistently ranked among America’s top 25 children’s hospitals in comparative studies done by Child Magazine.  The mission of this private, not-for-profit hospital is rooted in its beginnings as Florida’s first Crippled Children’s Hospital for polio victims. All Children’s understands that it’s not enough to treat disease -- that true progress comes from teaching and research to cure disease. All Children’s shares its pediatric expertise through research & education affiliations with the University of South Florida (USF Health) as well as the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.

As a regional referral center for children with some of the most challenging medical problems, All Children’s draws patients from throughout Florida, all 50 states and 36 foreign countries. Growing regional demand is such that construction is now underway on a new hospital and outpatient center to replace the current 40-year old facility. When this $300-million project opens its doors in early-2009, it will represent nearly a million square feet of space dedicated to state-of-the-art pediatric healthcare.