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CMA Helps Double Federal Funding for California’s Primary Care GME Programs

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The U.S. House of Representatives, with the leadership of California Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Modesto), recently passed HR 3922, “The Community Health and Medical Professionals Improve our Nation (CHAMPION) Act of 2017,” which would reauthorize for two years the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program (THCGME) that trains primary care physicians and helps to address the shortage of physicians in underserved communities. In a late night Congressional battle prior to the bill’s passage, the California Medical Association (CMA) successfully fought to double the funding from $60 million to $126 million for this critical program.

The THCGME program was established under the Affordable Care Act to alleviate primary care shortages in medically underserved areas by training new doctors right where they are needed. The program currently supports 742 physician residents at 59 teaching health centers, six of which are in California.

A robust and well-trained primary care workforce is essential to meeting the healthcare demands of all Californians. There is overwhelming data that physicians who complete training in California are very likely to set down roots and practice in the communities in which they trained. This bill will give California’s underserved areas the opportunity to train more physicians to address the serious physician shortages and resultant access to care challenges.

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