Health workforce bills advance in Congress
WASHINGTON – As Congress continues to tackle debt ceiling and infrastructure issues, lawmakers continue to work on other bills, including those related to healthcare personnel.
On Thursday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) Announced his co-sponsorship of a bill to increase the number of Medicare-funded graduate medical training places by 14,000 over the next 7 years. “The pandemic has underscored the dire shortage of doctors to treat emergency patients,” Kaine said in a statement on the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021. “I am proud to support this legislation, which takes important steps to achieve more doctors in the communities that need them most. “
In addition to increasing the number of Medicare-funded GME slots, the measure, introduced in March by Sen. Bob Menendez (DN.J.), would also lift the cap on the number of GME positions at eligible hospitals. Of the Medicare-funded slots that would be added as part of the bill, half would be reserved for specialists and the other half for primary care physicians. The measure would prioritize increases for hospitals in rural areas, state hospitals with new medical schools, hospitals already training doctors beyond their cap, and hospitals in an area with a shortage of medical professionals. .
The bill – which now has 16 Senate co-sponsors, including two Republicans – also requires the Comptroller General to complete a study within 2 years of enactment of the Strategies to Increase Hand Diversity Bill. -professional work of health.
“Rural communities, low-income and underserved communities – these communities all struggle to get trained health workers,” said a Kaine staff member. “This type of report examines these factors and is not limited to the number of training niches, but also examines other ways in which we can work to support rural and underserved communities, and have the full range of professionals trained. . “
The bill also has an accompanying measure in the House, which has 138 co-sponsors, including 25 Republicans; it was introduced by Representative Terri Sewell (D-Ala.).
Senator Kaine is also pushing for the passage of another health workforce bill, the Support for Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act., which he presented in July. This bill, which has seven Democratic co-sponsors, would provide federal funding to states and other entities “for initiatives to build, retain, train and otherwise promote the direct care workforce … and provide grants to states or other eligible entities to support education and training for paid and unpaid family caregivers.
Direct caregivers are defined as those who provide services to the elderly or disabled to help them promote their independence, such as assistance in activities of daily living. The bill would also establish a technical assistance center to help build a direct care workforce.
The direct care workforce of 4.5 million workers – which includes nearly 2.3 million home care providers – is expected to grow by more than one million by 2028, and that does not include not replacing those who will leave the field, the senator’s office noted in a press release. In addition, “the shortage of direct caregivers often puts pressure on family carers. The number of U.S. caregivers providing unpaid care has increased over the past 5 years, and 23% of caregivers say caregiving has made their health worse.