Erie Welcomes Senator Durbin!
June 6, 2011 | Steph
On June 2, 2011, Erie Family Health Center was honored to host U.S. Senator Dick Durbin at Erie Humboldt Park Health Center. During the visit, Erie had the opportunity to share our new Family Practice Residency Program and the importance of the Teaching Health Centers funding for the sustainability of the program. Erie’s Family Practice Residency Program, which is carried out in partnership with Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and Norwegian American Hospital, is a community-based residency program that aims to train primary care physicians to meet the health care needs of the millions of Americans that will be insured through health care reform.
Why is Erie’s Residency Program Important?
Erie’s residency program was created to address the changing needs of health care, including the shortage of primary care physicians. Some experts predict that there will be 10% shortage of primary care doctors by 2020. Additionally, through health care reform, as many as 32 million more Americans will be eligible for health care insurance. Without enough primary care doctors, these newly insured Americans will not be able to access care. In fact, According to the Council on Graduate Medical Education, if 35% of those currently uninsured were to gain insurance coverage, 84,000 primary care physicians would be required. Since many of these newly insured individuals will seek health care, and they will seek it in the very communities in which they live – neighborhoods, towns, locations where community health centers exist – it has never been more important to create primary care training programs within these communities.
Teaching Health Centers Funding
To provide this program, Erie and its partners receive funding through the Teaching Health Centers Program, which provides the support needed to sustain the program in the long-term. This legislation created the foundation for training programs like Erie’s, which seek to train the primary care physicians of tomorrow in a community-based setting. Recently, the Teaching Health Centers Program was placed at risk when the House of Representatives voted to make the funding part of an annual appropriations process, rather than mandatory funding. This means that each year training programs across the country would be unsure of whether they will receive funding or not. Uncertainty of this kind can prevent programs from expanding, planning ahead and, in some cases, continuing to exist. While this legislation is not expected to reach the Senate floor as a standalone bill, the risk is still very present and real.
Like many community-based residency programs across the country, Erie stands ready to continue training the primary care physicians of tomorrow and providing access to care for millions of underserved Americans. We thank Senator Durbin for allowing us to share our Family Practice Residency Program with him and his staff.