CHIP Bill Bolsters Family Medicine

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MADISON – Legislation adopted this week in the U.S. House of Representatives to continue the state Children’s Health Insurance Program, or “CHIP,” contains a provision restoring critical funding for the University of Wisconsin’s family medicine physician training program.
Representatives Steve Kagen (D-8th), Ron Kind (D-3rd), and Paul Ryan (R-1st) fought to include this language in the larger bill to correct a series of errors by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that put at risk one of the most well-respected family medicine training programs in the nation.
“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 preserve our ability to offer quality medicine to those families and communities across the state,” said Lee Vogel, MD, campus director of the Fox Valley Family Medicine Training Program in Appleton.
The Fox Valley program, which serves some 10,000 families in Appleton and the surrounding area, is most directly impacted by the provision. Other UW Family Medicine residency training programs were also put at risk when DHHS decided more than two years ago to withdraw funding from several of Fox Valley’s residency training positions as a result of alleged errors in the program’s paperwork.
A settlement reached in late June 2006 with DHHS auditors showed that, from the beginning, the program’s paperwork was in proper order. The Fox Valley and six other regional programs are part of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.
All seven of the UW Family Medicine programs will benefit from the language in the House bill. The provision in the “CHIP” reauthorization bill, which was passed narrowly by the U.S. House on Wednesday, is not included in the version of that bill that the Senate is expected to act on later today in the U.S. Senate.
Wisconsin Senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold have been longtime advocates for a remedy to correct the costly DHHS mistake, and they are expected to press for the remedy language to be included in a final “compromise measure” that will emerge after the House and Senate work out differences in their two bills, likely during the fall.
As such, said Dr. Vogel, “this is a critical first step toward addressing a very serious error.”
“We continue to be grateful to the entire Wisconsin Congressional delegation, which 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.

Date Published: 01/09/2008

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