Gov't Relations

PAEA President Delivers Persuasive Testimony Recommending $12 Million to Bolster PA Education

By Elizabeth AlesburyApril 30, 2015

Photo credit: Fred Watkins

Photo credit: Fred Watkins

PAEA President Stephane VanderMeulen testified on Capitol Hill about the importance of continued support for Title VII programs — the only source of funding that directly supports PA programs.

The goal of PAEA’s testimony, delivered by Stephane VanderMeulen, MPAS, PA-C, was to convince the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services of the urgency of not only maintaining support, but increasing funding, for Title VII programs, particularly the Primary Care Training and Enhancement Program. On April 29, in front of a crowded hearing room, she stressed the need for additional funding to strengthen PA education curricular innovation, faculty recruitment and development, and training.

In requesting the increased funding level, VanderMeulen said, “While $12 million is a relatively small amount, this investment would benefit our programs significantly.” She also emphasized the critical role that PAs can — and do — play in addressing the primary care health provider shortage, especially as it relates to underserved populations.

Title VII Lifeline

Title VII funding is crucial for both the support and growth of PA education. Specifically targeted at primary care education and training programs, it is necessary to:

  • Expand access to patient care by increasing the deployment of PAs to medically underserved areas
  • Support the expansion of PA education by addressing faculty and clinical site shortages
  • Increase the diversity of PA faculty and students to match the U.S. population

A Look at the Numbers

While the number of new PA programs is exploding, the amount of funding for PA education is decreasing. In 2010, there were 142 programs, and PA education received a little over $3 million in Title VII funding. Today, with 196 programs, only $1 million is designated for PA education. It isn’t hard to do the math — and it clearly doesn’t add up.

VanderMeulen told the subcommittee that with approximately 77 PA programs in development, ARC-PA estimates there will be 270 programs by the year 2020. “Despite the continued demand for a robust PA workforce, federal funding has not kept pace with program growth and needs,” she explained.

With the Labor HHS Appropriations Subcommittee receiving nearly 160 requests from organizations to testify but only 23 selected, this opportunity was a significant milestone for PAEA. The subcommittee now will review all of the submitted testimony before making its decision about how to appropriate Labor HHS funding, including Title VII, for FY 2016, which begins in October.

Libby Alesbury
Elizabeth Alesbury

Elizabeth (Libby) is director of communications for the Physician Assistant Education Association. With a background in news, publications, television, and media relations, she joined PAEA in 2010.