March 29, 2012
Statement by the Association of Academic Health Centers on
FY 2013 Appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Health Care Workforce Commission
submitted to the
Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations, United States House of Representatives
The Association of Academic Health Centers is a non-profit association representing approximately one hundred of the nation’s academic health centers. As part of the system of higher education and located within universities, academic health centers have critical responsibilities that extend beyond those of traditional academia, including:
· Educating the nation’s health workforce;
· Conducting cutting-edge biomedical and clinical research; and
· Providing comprehensive patient care from the basic to the most advanced services.
In addition to the mission of advancing and applying knowledge to improve health and well-being, academic health centers are major contributors to economic growth and development and are among their region’s largest employers.
Preservation of funding for biomedical research
The biomedical research enterprise in the United States is responsible for a majority of the countless treatments and cures developed every year, as well as for fueling the economic engine. According to an updated report from United for Medical Research and Dr. Everett Ehrlich, the NIH supported over 432,000 jobs in 2011, roughly 55,000 fewer jobs than in 2010. Nations like China, India, and Russia are drastically increasing their investment in research. In order to preserve the many benefits of a thriving research community, including American competitiveness abroad, we must continue to invest in the growth of the sector. Sustained growth of funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is crucial to this endeavor. AAHC requests that Congress appropriate at least $32 billion for NIH in fiscal year 2013, and continue to demonstrate bipartisan commitment to a strong economy and improved health. This funding recommendation represents the minimum investment necessary to avoid further loss of promising research and at the same time allows the NIH’s budget to keep pace with biomedical inflation.
Preservation of funding for workforce development
Increasing the percentage of Americans with health insurance will not do enough to improve access to health care without an adequate health professions workforce. As the baby boomer generation ages and more people who have previously been uninsured present for care, the health workforce must have the skills to provide safe, high-quality, and effective care for patients in an inter-professional, inter-disciplinary, collaborative environment. In order to achieve that goal, Congress must adequately fund workforce development programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration ($520M for Title VII/Title VIII). Furthermore, AAHC is concerned about the interest by some in making cuts to graduate medical education payments. AAHC concurs with the Council on Graduate Medical Education’s latest recommendations, and asks that Congress, at a minimum, maintains the current funding scheme and number of slots for graduate medical education.
$3 million appropriation for the National Health Care Workforce Commission
The AAHC has long called for a comprehensive national strategic vision for health workforce policy and planning. That vision is needed if complex and urgent health workforce issues are to be addressed effectively. AAHC believes that the National Health Care Workforce Commission is the right body to develop that vision, and we urge Congress to appropriate $3 million for the National Health Care Workforce Commission (NHCWC) in fiscal year 2013. The NHCWC was appointed in September 2010, and has yet to be able to convene due to their lack of appropriated funds. The AAHC is committed to supporting the NHCWC and is concerned with its lack of funding and subsequent inability to move forward. Without the Commission’s actions in analyzing and recommending reasonable and responsive national health workforce policy focused on shortages and saving costs, the nation’s health workforce cannot meet the current needs in underserved areas and the future needs of an aging population.
The AAHC recognizes the tremendous fiscal pressures that Congress, and specifically members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, are under in this current environment. However, investing in the nation’s biomedical research enterprise and in the development of a robust health workforce is critical to ensure a stronger economy and healthier population in the future. We look forward to working with the Subcommittee to prioritize the biomedical research and the health workforce in FY 2013 and into the future.