Action on Friday, Feb. 9 saw the House of Representatives pass H.R. 1892, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which sets discretionary spending levels and funds the government though March 23. Included in the bill were key provisions originally introduced by U.S. Representative Jeff Denham to help increase access to healthcare in the Valley and encourage mitigation for wildfires and other natural disasters.
Teaching Health Centers
Denham’s Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) Funding and expansion language was included in the continuing resolution, doubling the current amount of funding for the program. This will ensure local programs like Valley Consortium for Medical Education (VCME) in Modesto can train more physicians.
“These provisions are key to bringing more primary and specialty care physicians to medically underserved areas like ours,” said Rep. Denham. “Increasing the number of Teaching Health Center programs like the Valley Consortium for Medical Education in Modesto will help us train and retain doctors in our community.”
“In the midst of a primary care crisis, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program has demonstrated that addressing the shortage of primary care physicians, especially for traditionally underserved rural and urban areas, is not only essential but also achievable,” said Dr. Neil Calman, President of the American Association of Teaching Health centers. “This investment in training the primary care workforce improves access to health care for some of the most vulnerable populations. Teaching Health Centers across the country applaud the leadership of our bipartisan Congressional representatives, especially Congressman Jeff Denham, to preserve and expand this essential funding program.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges has found that while enrollment in medical schools has increased eight percent over the last 15 years, the U.S. still faces a serious doctor shortage. A national shortage will only compound the serious lack of access to care that Central valley communities already experience. These provisions were originally introduced by Congressman Denham as the Creating Additional Residency Expansion (CARE) Act and Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Extension Act.
Cost-saving FEMA reforms, initially introduced by Denham as the Supporting Mitigation Activities and Resiliency Targets for Rebuilding Act (SMART Rebuilding Act) and attached to emergency wildfire aid in late December, were a part of the package which included a total of $89 billion in disaster aid for hurricane and wildfire victims.
Denham’s FEMA reforms will incentivize and enable states and communities to build more resiliently after disaster strikes and establish life-saving plans by increasing the federal cost share for communities that adopt mitigation measures.
“Rebuilding the same structures in the same disaster-prone places without implementing improvements is a bad investment for everyone, especially the American taxpayers. My policies will provide resources and incentives for communities to plan ahead and mitigate future damages to save lives and taxpayer dollars,” said Denham.
“The federal cost share reform incentive represents a major shift in the disaster mitigation landscape and will help reverse the cycle of destruction in the U.S. while saving American lives and tax dollars,” said BuildStrong Coalition Executive Director Phil Anderson. “Congressman Denham has long been a champion on disaster mitigation issues and his leadership and cooperation with the BuildStrong Coalition was critical in having these reform incentives realized as part of this historic agreement.”
According to FEMA, every $1 invested in mitigation results in $4 in disaster cost savings for taxpayers.
Denham represents California’s 10th congressional district and is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. He also serves on the House Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources.