U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday announced new investments worth $250 million to increase the number of healthcare providers and strengthen the primary care workforce.
Communities across the country have long suffered from a shortage of primary care providers. Experts say without action, the primary care shortfall will continue and there will be a decline in the number of medical students choosing primary care. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimated a shortage of approximately 21,000 primary care clinicians in 2015. The investments announced yesterday will support the training and development of more than 16,000 new primary care providers over the next five years.
“These investments build on the administration’s strong commitment to training the primary care doctors and nurses of tomorrow and improving both health care quality and access for Americans throughout the country,” Sebelius said.
The Affordable Care Act’s goal of increasing access to quality, affordable care can only be accomplished if there the next generation of health professionals gets trained to provide it, U.S. Representative Lois Capps said.
“This critical investment will help alleviate the current shortage of primary health care providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurses,” the congresswoman said. “Increasing the number of primary care professionals will allow us to place an increased emphasis on preventive care and wellness – something I’ve devoted my life to as a public health nurse — making this country healthier in the long run. ”
The investments in the primary care workforce are the first allocation from the new $500 million Prevention and Public Health fund for fiscal year 2010. Half of this fund will be used to boost the supply of primary care providers by creating additional primary care residency slots, establishing new nurse practitioner-led clinics, and encouraging states to plan for and address health professional workforce needs.