HealthDay News — The National Health Service Corps will receive $100 million to help tackle the U.S. health care worker shortage, the White House announced Thursday.
That number represents a fivefold increase in funding from previous years for a program that helps find primary care doctors for communities that struggle to recruit and keep them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, NBC News reported. In exchange for a number of years of providing care in areas that lack health care providers, doctors are offered loan repayments and scholarships.
“COVID has basically caused a laser focus on the glaring gaps and dysfunction across the American health care system,” Tener Veenema, a scholar focused on workforce issues at Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told NBC News. “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.”
The latest statistics bear that out: The United States lost 17,500 health care workers in September and 524,000 since the start of the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
States will be able to apply for grants until April, and the HHS predicts it will grant up to 50 awards as high as $1 million per year over the course of four years. “With these funds, states can design programs that optimize the selection of disciplines and service locations, and tailor the length of service commitments to address the areas of greatest need in their communities,” Diana Espinosa, acting administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, which oversees the program, told NBC News.
The project will launch in September 2022.