Title VII Grant Cuts Will Hurt Rural Areas
President Bush's budget proposal to "zero out" funds for Title VII of the Public Health Services Act, which provides grants to encourage medical students to pursue careers in primary care, would have "adverse consequences" for rural health care, the American Academy of Family Physicians said Monday. Bush's FY 2002 budget proposal calls for the grant program to be phased out, while it simultaneously proposes doubling funding for community health centers, which are staffed primarily by primary care physicians, CongressDaily/AM reports. According to an AAFP-commissioned study based on census data, medical schools that received Title VII grants over the last 16 years produced twice as many family physicians as schools that did not receive the funds. The study also found that schools receiving any Title VII grant produced doctors who were more likely to practice primary care in medically underserved areas, particularly rural areas. Bruce Bagley, AAFP board chair, said, "President Bush is sending a confusing message. ... Reducing the ability of medical students to choose family medicine is counterproductive to increasing the care given at community health centers. In fact, it is a formula for the centers' failure." Testifying before the House Labor, HHS, Education appropriations subcommittee in March, AAFP board member James Martin urged lawmakers to allocate $158 million for the primary care and dentistry cluster of Title VII, including $96 million for family medicine programs (Fulton, CongressDaily/AM, 5/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.