Costa’s Expanding Medical Education Act Included In Next Coronavirus Relief Bill

May 13, 2020
Press Release

(FRESNO) – After a decades long fight to improve access to healthcare for residents of the San Joaquin Valley, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) announced today $1 billion dollars in funding for medical school construction, expansion, and training in underserved areas will be included in the Heroes Act, the next COVID-19 relief bill introduced by the House of Representatives. 
 
“This is a huge win for our Valley and its residents,” said Costa. “We simply do not have enough doctors to care for our growing population, a problem only exacerbated in the coronavirus health crisis. This legislation is key to closing the doctor shortage in the Valley and ensuring every Valley resident has access to the healthcare they deserve. Getting the funding included in the Heroes Act is an important step forward.” 

In January, Costa introduced the Expanding Medical Education Act, which works to establish medical training in areas of high need, with priorities for funding given to institutions, such as UCSF Fresno, that focus on diverse and medically deprived communities. The Heroes Act picks up that language and eliminates matching grants and limits on the amount of funding a school can apply for. It also expands the pool of qualified schools to include Hispanic-serving institutions, such as UC Merced. 

“Congressman Costa has been a longtime advocate for increasing access to high quality health care for chronically underserved communities,” said Michael W. Peterson, M.D., Associate Dean at UCSF Fresno. “We appreciate and applaud his efforts to address persistent physician shortages by strengthening medical education and physician training in areas like the San Joaquin Valley, which have significant unmet health needs. And we appreciate the bi-partisan support to make emergency supplemental appropriations available to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic and safeguard public health in the future.”

“We are very appreciative of Congressman Costa’s longstanding leadership and support for expanding medical education in the San Joaquin Valley — one of the most medically underserved regions of the United States", said Thelma Hurd, M.D, Director of Medical Education at UC Merced. "UC Merced, UCSF-Fresno and many other partners have been working to build medical and health science education and public health initiatives, and this funding would significantly enhance our ability to train and retain medical professionals to serve all of the people of the Valley.”

"If anyone was doubting the need to bolster our health care workforce in the Valley, this pandemic should put that skepticism to bed," said California State Assembly member Adam Gray. "We have been forced to sacrifice and give up available resources because of an inability to provide the necessary medical staff. People’s lives are on the line, and the status quo is inexcusable. I commend Congressman Costa’s persistent advocacy. A medical school in the Valley should be this pandemic’s legacy, not one of its victims.”

Community Medical Centers is pleased to learn of this funding effort by Congressman Jim Costa," said Craig Castro, interim President and CEO, Community Medical Centers. "This support for medical education will help meet the need to grow future physicians for the Central Valley for generations to come.”

Congressman Costa collaborated with Rep. Anna Eshoo, Chairwoman of the Energy and Commerce's Health Subcommitte and who has roots in the valley, to ensure this vital legislation was included in the Heroes Act, and sent a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone on April 15th. Costa thanks Representatives Eshoo and Pallone for working with him on this effort. 

The Heroes Act, the fifth coronavirus relief bill, is expected to go before the House of Representatives for a vote as early as Friday.