White House Will Invest $100M to Address the Health Care Worker Shortage

The Biden administration has announced it will invest $100 million of funds from the American Rescue Plan to help address the health care worker shortage. This plan represents one of the nation’s largest investments in the National Health Service Corps – a five-fold increase from previous years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The National Health Service Corps provides loan repayments and scholarships to clinicians in exchange for years of service in areas that have a shortage of health care providers.

Additionally, U.S. states will be eligible to apply for grants from HHS until April 2022. The agency expects to make up to 50 awards of as much as $1 million per year over the next four years.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the U.S. lost 17,500 health care workers in September 2021, and 524,000 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The largest drops in September were in nursing, hospitals, and residential care. The Biden administration’s plan, which starts in September 2022, won’t have an immediate effect on the labor shortage, and experts expect the issue to worsen over the next decade.

“COVID has basically caused a laser focus on the glaring gaps and dysfunction across the American health care system,” said Tener Veenema, PhD, MPH, RN, a scholar focused on workforce issues at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security. “Making investments to redistribute health care providers into rural areas, low-resourced areas, is so important because we know how much they are suffering from a lack of access to good health care.”

Source: NBC News, October 14, 2021.