Saving Wisconsin Family Medical Training
Appleton, WI – Legislation to restore funding for physician training at the nationally-acclaimed Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
The bill, the Medicare Residency Program Technical Correction Act of 2007, introduced by Congressman Steve Kagen, MD (D-Appleton), together with Congressmen Ron Kind (D-LaCrosse) and Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) would correct a series of errors made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) which prompted federal bureaucrats to withdraw much of the program’s federal funding.
The House bill has been sponsored by all eight members of the state’s congressional delegation, and two of its lead cosponsors - Congressmen Kind and Ryan - are members of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, which has oversight for Medicare issues. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced earlier this year by Senator Herb Kohl and Senator Russ Feingold.
The Fox Valley Family Medicine Program, based in Appleton, is part of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
“We are very grateful for the leadership and bi-partisan support of the entire Wisconsin Congressional Delegation,” said Lee Vogel, MD, campus director of the Fox Valley Program. “Our delegation understands that what seems like a minor bureaucratic error is a serious mistake that could cost not only the Fox Valley Family Medicine Program, but also damage the seven other family medicine training programs across the state,” she added.
For nearly two years, Appleton’s Fox Valley Family Medicine Residency Program has been fighting the dangerous consequences of erroneous decisions imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Two years ago, CMS informed the School that its Fox Valley program, which serves some 10,000 families in Appleton and the surrounding area, would lose funding for several of its residency training positions as a result of errors in the program’s paperwork. A settlement reached in late June 2006 with CMS’ own outside auditors showed that, from the beginning, the program’s paperwork was in proper order.
“Programs like ours that train new generations of family physicians and provide health care to our small cities and rural communities depend on federal funds for their existence. This legislation will undo the damage and preserve our clinic,” Dr. Vogel said.
She explained that the Fox Valley program is directly linked to the UW family training programs in Augusta, Baraboo, Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau and their ability to attract and train the highest quality doctors relies on continuation of federal funding. The legislation establishes a process for correcting errors made by CMS relating to the allocation of graduate medical education funding.
“Our congressional delegation is standing up for quality family medicine in Wisconsin and everywhere,” said Dr. Vogel. “Senator Kohl, Senator Feingold and now the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation have been relentless in helping us to rectify a fundamental injustice to the people of the Fox Valley. Our representatives in Washington understand the importance of family medicine particularly to smaller communities, and they have been willing to stand up to the Washington bureaucracy on our behalf.”
In addition to Congressmen Kagen, Kind and Ryan the other House co-sponsors are Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, Congressman Dave Obey, Congressman Tom Petri and Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner.
Date Published: 01/09/2008