The Good & Not-So-Good News in Obama’s Budget

On Wednesday, February 10, President Obama released his FY 2017 budget.

“The FY 17 President’s budget is a mixed bag for PA education,” said PAEA Chief Policy & Research Officer Tony Miller, MEd, PA-C. “Even though it’s unlikely that Congress will take up any of the President’s initiatives, it is encouraging that PAs and PA education are increasingly becoming recognized as vital to the nation’s health care.”

The Positives

  • The Health Careers Opportunities Program was funded the same amount as FY 2016, at $14,189,000. This program aims to increase the diversity of the health care workforce through the recruitment and training of non-traditional students and veterans, from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • The number of National Health Service Corp primary care clinicians increased from 9,153 to 15,000 from fiscal year 2018 to 2020. These providers receive student loan forgiveness for practicing in medically underserved areas.
  • For the first time PAs, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists are eligible to participate with Accountable Care Organizations. This means primary care PAs would be able to treat Medicare fee-for-service patients.

The Concerns

  • Funding for the Primary Care Training and Enhancement program remained the same as the previous fiscal year, at $38,924,000. With the number of accredited PA programs expected to grow more than 20 percent in the next few years, increased funding is essential to ensure that primary care education and training occurs in medically underserved areas.
  • The Area Health Education Centers Program did not receive funding. The program provides money, among other things, for health professions students to pay for housing at remote sites in rural and other medically underserved areas. Without this funding, the costs for housing will fall on the backs of students.