If you watched the president’s State of the Union speech, you may have noticed that he spent barely any time discussing health care. In a speech that lasted more than an hour, the president said only: “I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage or charge women differently from men.” He also used the health care law as an example of how he strives to work with Republicans.
With the exception of those brief mentions, the president stuck mainly to manufacturing, innovation, and defense for the bulk of his speech. In fact, Obama spent so little time on the subject of health care reform that he chose not to acknowledge a cancer patient in the audience that was invited to the speech as an example of someone with a pre-existing condition who was helped by the law.
Something else the president chose not to mention was the decision by the Office of Management and Budget to delay the release of the proposed FY 2013 budget by a week. The president’s budget, which is traditionally released on the first Monday in February, will now be released on February 13. (The president also released the budget one week late in 2011.)
From an advocacy perspective, this presents an opportunity for us. In last year’s budget proposal, the president recommended eliminating funding for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program. Congress, however, did not take the President’s suggestion and maintained funding for the program, which trains 40 percent of the pediatric workforce.
This was not an easy battle – while there is broad bipartisan support for the program, some Democrats sided with the president and said the program was unnecessary, and some Republicans were suddenly all too eager to side with the president on a budget issue. Should the president once again decide to attempt to eliminate the program, we will face this same battle in 2012.
Let’s let the president know he should not be repeating mistakes of the past. Let’s let him know that a program that trains 5,600 pediatricians per year and is less than 1/1000th of the federal budget is a sound investment. Write to President Obama today and tell him to support CHGME.