Senate Appropriations Committee Shines a Spotlight on Clinical Site Shortage

When the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to advance the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act last month, the report accompanying the bill included valuable PAEA-recommended language related to the clinical site shortage. This bill provides funding to high-priority programs for PA education in fiscal year 2019. The inclusion of this language is a significant victory for PA educators, as reports accompanying appropriations bills seek to clarify congressional intent and provide guidance as executive agencies work to implement legislative mandates.

In addition to rejecting the Trump administration’s proposal to eliminate funding for most Title VII programs and maintaining the increased investment in these programs that was enacted in the FY18 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, the report included the following section on clinical sites and MAT training – both important issues for PAEA:

“The Committee is aware of a clinical training site shortage for primary care professionals, including PAs and other health professionals. The Committee is aware of a clinical training site shortage for primary care, as well as mental and behavioral health, caused by the increasing demand for PAs that has created shortages of preceptors and clinical training sites among PAs and other health professionals. The Committee recognizes that this is particularly acute in the face of an opioid crisis that requires greater focus on Medication Assisted Treatment training and pain management skills that often become the responsibility of primary care clinicians. The Committee recommends that the Secretary leverage currently convened Advisory Committee(s), as applicable, to study clinical training site availability in primary care and mental and behavioral health for PAs. The Committee encourages the Advisory Committee(s) to develop recommendations to enhance clinical education through inter-professional team-based education, address the shortage in preceptors willing to provide clinical site training, and explore reimbursement incentives to increase the number of available clinical training sites.”

The advisory committees tasked with developing the recommendations for the Secretary of Health and Human Services include the Advisory Committee on Interdisciplinary, Community-Based Linkages, the Advisory Committee on Training in Primary Care Medicine and Dentistry, and the Council on Graduate Medical Education.

In the coming weeks, PAEA’s Government Relations team will be engaging with these advisory committees and with congressional staff to encourage continued progress in carrying out the recommendations included in the Senate report.

We would especially like to thank the office of Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) for his leadership on the clinical site shortage and broader health workforce issues, as well as former PAEA President Bill Kohlhepp, DHSc, PA-C, and Paula Phelps, MHE, PA-C, for their assistance in facilitating the inclusion of this language in the report and for their commitment to advocacy on this issue and on behalf of PA education.