Bill Introduced to Renew Teaching Health Centers Program
Last month, a bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill to reauthorize the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program for three years. The program, currently recruiting and training nearly 1,000 medical professionals across the country, focuses efforts on medical and behavioral health services in rural and underserved communities. Importantly, the program includes psychiatry as a residency option.
Currently administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), THCGME programs support new and expanded health care residency trainings in community-based treatment settings, differing from other residency programs that are based out of hospital systems. The program often targets rural and underserved areas, providing services to communities truly in need of health care services. More importantly, the program includes psychiatry as a primary care residency option, directly aiding the nation’s behavioral health workforce shortage and ensuring consumers across the country receive mental health treatment services they need.
“The benefits of Teaching Health Centers are widespread. They give aspiring primary care physicians – who are so crucial to providing personalized preventative care and ensuring health concerns are caught and treated early – the opportunity to train in a diverse setting,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA), original author of the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017 (H.R. 3394).
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, half of all U.S. counties have no practicing behavioral health professionals. This means more than 80 million Americans are living in areas that lack sufficient providers. The THCGME program supports the recruitment and training of these qualified professionals, bringing needed access to primary and behavioral health care to some of our nation’s most underserved communities.
Urge your legislator to sign-on to this bill as a cosponsor. Currently, there are over 50 legislators supporting this bipartisan bill. Make sure your Representative is one of them. Send a message today!