As part of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, Vice President Kamala Harris will announce a historic $1.5 billion investment to support the growth and diversification of the nation’s health-care workforce, as well as the provision of equitable health-care services in the communities that will be most affected.
In addition to the National Health Service Corps, the Nurse Corps, and the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programmes are all supported by these grants. Providing scholarship and debt payback money to health care students and professionals in return for a promise to serve in hard-hit and high-risk regions, these initiatives help to address labour shortages and health inequities.
More than 22,700 providers will benefit from this funding, making it the largest field strength in the history of these programmes. This includes a record number of skilled doctors, dentists, nurses and behavioural health providers who are committed to working in underserved communities at a time when we most need their help.
Clinicians from the National Health Service Corps and the Nurse Corps provide treatment to more than 23.6 million patients in the United States. Thousands of these health professionals have worked in community health centres and hospitals across the country during the pandemic, providing care for COVID-19 patients, supporting the mental health of their communities, administering COVID-19 tests and lifesaving treatments, and injecting vaccines into patients’ arms.
Despite the fact that Black and Hispanic/Latino Americans make for 31 percent of the nation’s overall population, just roughly 7 percent of doctors in the United States identify as Black or Hispanic/Latino. Over a quarter of doctors working in the National Health Service Corps are black or Hispanic/Latino, according to the National Health Service Corps. In order to address racial and ethnic inequalities in health outcomes and to increase the number of people from these communities who work in health care professions, it is necessary to mobilise these providers.
A shortfall of over 60,000 primary care physicians, dentists, and psychiatrists is expected to develop in the United States over the next decade, and an estimated 158,000 additional nurses are required to graduate every year for the remainder of this decade. The student debt associated with graduate health education, which may average more than $200,000 per student and prohibit students from marginalised regions from ever pursuing a career in the health care professions, is a significant obstacle to solving these health care requirements. Furthermore, the Administration intends to begin awarding $330 million in American Rescue Plan funds for Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education in the coming months, which will help to further promote the development of primary care. Through community-based primary care residency programmes in family medicine, internal medicine, paediatrics, internal medicine-pediatrics, psychiatry, obstetrics and gynaecology, dentistry, paediatric dentistry, and geriatrics, the Department of Health and Human Services will be able to support the expansion of the primary care physician and dental workforce in underserved communities.
Following the recommendations of the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, which delivered its final report to the White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator earlier this month, today’s announcements are a direct response to those recommendations. This Task Force was conceived during the Vice President’s final year in the Senate, when she introduced legislation that served as a model for the President’s formation of the Task Force, which recognised that the perspectives of public health experts and practitioners, advocates, and activists would be critical in supporting any federal effort to centre equity in our pandemic response.
Additionally, this funding builds on the billions of dollars in investments made by the Biden-Harris Administration for equity-focused programmes and initiatives over the past 10 months, including the $785 million that the Administration announced earlier this month to ensure that equity remains at the forefront of our COVID-19 response.