American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Pediatric Issues

ACS Continues Push to End Shortages of Pediatric Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons (ACS), along with several other organizations, has again asked the Office of Management and Budget to include in the President’s fiscal year 2015 budget funding for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program. ACS has advocated for funding of this program since it was created as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The Senate for the first time included $5 million for the program in its fiscal year 2014 Labor Health and Human Services appropriations bill, but unfortunately funding was not included in the final government funding bill passed in January.  

At present, there is a recognizable disparity in the geographic distribution of pediatric subspecialists trained specifically to care for the special health care needs of children. Children and their families are placed on long waiting lists to see specialists, or may have to travel extensive distances for treatment. The Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program will provide a financial incentive for students wishing to pursue a career in pediatric mental health and pediatric subspecialties. Eligible participants must agree to work full-time for not less than two years in a pediatric medical subspecialty, a pediatric surgical specialty, or in child and adolescent mental and behavioral health in a health professional shortage area or a medically underserved area. Read more about current difficulties faced by families seeking care and the details of the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program.

Pediatric Subspecialty and Mental Health Workforce Reauthorization Act

On July 22, 2013, the ACS sent a letter of support for the Pediatric Subspecialty and Mental Health Workforce Reauthorization Act that would extend authorization for the pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program through 2018. Under the current law, the program will expire in 2014. This program provides $35,000 per year for up to three years to pediatric surgeons or other pediatric medical and mental health specialists who agree to practice for at least two years in underserved areas. On July 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a bill that, for the first time, included funding for the program at $5 million for fiscal year 2014.

Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program

The ACS continues to advocate for funding for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program. The program would provide up to $35,000 in loan repayments per year for up to three years for pediatric surgeons and other pediatric medical and mental health professionals who agree to practice for at least two years in areas with severe shortages of these specialists. The President’s budget for fiscal year 2014 released on April 10 included $5 million for the program. The ACS, along with 50 other organizations, sent a letter to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees in support of funding the program at that level. Additionally, ACS advocacy staff participated in coalition meetings with House and Senate Appropriations Committee staff in support of the program. The deadlines for members of the House and Senate to make appropriations requests are April 22 and 25, respectively.

Matt Coffron