Congress Provides Near-level Funding for Primary Care Training Programs

December 22, 2011 08:35 am News Staff

Congress has approved a final fiscal year, or FY, 2012 appropriations bill that provides nearly $40 million in funding for Title VII of the Public Health Service Act. This figure is roughly the same amount allocated for the program in 2011, but all HHS programs are subject to a 0.189 percent rescission, meaning the total amount of funding for Section 747 of Title VII will be slightly less in FY 2012 than FY 2011.

Section 747 of Title VII is the only federal program that provides funds specifically to academic programs to increase the number of primary care health professionals. The $40 million in funding is far less than the nearly $140 million President Obama requested for the program in 2012. Obama is expected to sign the bill, however.

In a prepared statement, AAFP President Glen Stream, M.D., M.B.I., of Spokane, Wash., said the AAFP "appreciates Congress' vote to continue support for the health professions grants that are vital to building the nation's primary care physician workforce."

"By maintaining funding for Section 747 of Title VII of the Public Health Service Act at nearly $40 million for fiscal year 2012, Congress has ensured that primary care programs in America's medical schools can continue to support curricular enhancements and other innovations that encourage students to become primary care physicians," said Stream. "Meaningful health system reform depends on primary care physicians who provide comprehensive, preventive, coordinated care that helps rein in the unnecessary, duplicative and costly services that contribute to our spiraling health care costs."

The spending measure, known as the "megabus" appropriations bill, also eliminates discretionary funding for the National Health Service Corps, or NHSC. Passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, however, created an NHSC reserve fund that essentially provides $295 million for the program in FY 2012.

Overall, the megabus bill provides $69.7 billion for HHS in FY 2012 -- a $700 million reduction from FY 2011 -- and $6.5 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration -- a decrease of $41 million from the FY 2011 level.