The Trump administration released its proposed FY 2019 budget this week, officially kicking off the federal budget and appropriations process for the upcoming 2019 fiscal year. Similar to the president’s first budget, health workforce funding in this year’s proposal was subjected to devastating proposed cuts, with several Title VII programs — including Primary Care Training and Enhancement (PCTE) grants, Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students, and Area Health Education Centers — slated for elimination. While the administration’s budget calls for the elimination of the federal programs that most directly benefit PA education, the proposal largely protects funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), a victory for PA education advocates who contacted their representatives in PAEA’s most recent grassroots campaign to extend NHSC funding.
In addition to the proposed elimination of a number of Title VII health workforce programs, the budget would also cut the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program (PSLF). The PSLF program was enacted in 2007 under President George W. Bush and permits loan forgiveness for those who serve in a public or nonprofit capacity and make on-time payments for 10 years.
Echoing the FY 2018 proposal to cut funding for PSLF, the administration states, “To support this streamlined pathway to debt relief for undergraduate borrowers, and to generate savings that help put the Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path, the Budget eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, establishes reforms to guarantee that all borrowers in [income based repayment] pay an equitable share of their income, and eliminates subsidized loans.” (In response to recent calls among House Republicans to eliminate PSLF in the proposed reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, PAEA recently sent an action alert encouraging advocates to contact their representatives and urge Congress to protect the program.)
The administration’s budget similarly justifies the proposed elimination of Title VII health workforce programs, stating, “The Budget also proposes to eliminate $451 million in other health professions and training programs, which lack evidence that they significantly improve the Nation’s health workforce. The Budget continues to fund high value health workforce activities, such as the National Health Service Corps, that provide scholarships and loan repayment in exchange for service in areas of the United States where there is a shortage of health professionals.”
Similar cuts were proposed last year, but following sustained advocacy by PAEA and other members of the health professions education community, the House and Senate appropriations committees voted to protect current funding levels for these programs last year. While Congress has indicated its recognition of the value of Title VII and the administration’s proposed budget is not binding, ensuring continued Title VII funding and protecting PSLF will require all PA education advocates to make their voices heard. PAEA’s Government Relations team will be developing resources to assist advocates in telling Congress to reject the president’s draconian cuts and protect critical Title VII programs for PA education. PAEA also encourages PA programs that receive Title VII grants under PCTE to publish and disseminate the results of programs supported through these funds. Building the evidence base to show the effectiveness of Title VII-funded programs will help us protect them in future years.
With questions on the president’s FY 2019 budget proposal, please contact advocacy@PAEAonline.org.