At the end of December 2015, Governor Tom Wolf signed a $23.4 billion state budget that contained line-item vetoes for a number of general fund items including poison control centers — one of the states two centers is operated by CHOP — and obstetrics and neonatal services funding. It remains to be seen how the gap between the legislature and the Governor will be closed, but there is the possibility that funding will be restored before the close of the fiscal year.
Also in December, Governor Tom Wolf signed HB 857 which reauthorizes Pennsylvania’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for two years and moves it from the state’s Insurance Department to the Department of Human Services, which also administers the Medicaid program. Since many children move between the CHIP and Medical Assistance programs during any given month, DHS Secretary Ted Dallas is hopeful that having the programs together under the same state agency will improve the quality and coordination of care.
CHIP, which was launched here in Pennsylvania in 1992 when former Governor Robert P. Casey signed the Children’s Health Insurance Act, serves as the model for the federal government’s program. CHIP provides insurance coverage to families who earn too much to qualify for Medical Assistance (Medicaid) but cannot afford private insurance.
Congress approved and President Obama signed the FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Act in December, which included a $30 million increase for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) Payment Program and a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Medical education and research have been core to CHOP’s mission for many of our 160 years and the support we receive from the federal government goes a long way toward helping us train the next generation of pediatricians and developing cures for childhood diseases. Our cohort of trainees includes nearly 150 residents and 250 fellows who, in addition to their medical education on our Campus, provide important programming and services to children and their families in our neighborhoods as participants in CHOP’s Community Pediatrics and Advocacy Program.
NIH funding supports over 525 investigators and thousands of researchers at CHOP who work in more than 700,000 square feet of laboratories throughout the CHOP Campus, as a part of the CHOP Research Institute. Increased NIH funding will support research projects that may someday lead to the next breakthrough therapy.
Given the $200 million in additional funding made available for the Precision Medicine Initiative, we are optimistic that personalized medicine — something CHOP has long worked to advance — will emerge as one of the best interventions in treating and preventing disease.