Following the release of a December 14 Primary Care Training and Enhancement Notice of Funding Opportunity focusing on physician maternal health training, the PAEA Government Relations team reached out to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) staff to clarify the agency’s intentions for the program. Recently, the largest Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE) program competition has been open to PA programs on a five-year basis, and many PA programs were planning to apply for funding in the current cycle. While PA programs are technically eligible to apply for this funding, the objectives and priorities listed made it clear that the funds were intended only for family medicine physician residents and fellows.
HRSA officials reported to PAEA in December that, rather than issuing a new competition for PA programs, they intend to award supplemental funding to the pre-existing PCTE–Physician Assistant program that was created following a $10 million increase in funding for the overall PCTE program in 2018. This funding will be offered to PA programs that previously applied but did not receive funding for the supplemental PCTE-PA competition. Eight awards, totaling $2.4 million, will be made. PA programs that submitted applications for the 2018/2019 PCTE-PA competition that were approved but not awarded may be contacted by HRSA regarding this newly available funding.
HRSA has further indicated its intent to issue a new NOFO for the PCTE-PA program in 2023. This program will provide more opportunities for PA educators to serve as the principal investigator on PCTE awards while limiting competition for programs with medical school and physician residency program applicants. This funding level seeks to comply with the statutory mandate that a “floor” of 15% of funding awarded under the PCTE program go to support PA programs.
Longer term, PAEA will continue to advocate for PA programs to receive no less than the 15 percent funding floor that is required in statute and has been confirmed in appropriations reports for several years. The Affordable Care Act requires that “HRSA … ensure that not less than 15 percent of funds provided for this program are used to support training of physician assistants.” This funding stream is one of the few sources of federal funds available to PA programs and is a high priority for PAEA to preserve for programs, especially in the current budget situation that many programs face.
PAEA will also continue building upon recent efforts through workshops and webinars to develop program grant-writing capacity in anticipation of this and other funding opportunities. As PAEA continues meeting regularly with HRSA’s Bureau of Health Workforce Division of Medicine and Dentistry, the Government Relations team will share additional information on the administration of the PCTE program with members. Faculty with questions are invited to contact Dave Keahey at dkeahey@PAEAonline.org or Tyler Smith at tsmith@PAEAonline.org.