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February 14, 2022

HELP Subcommittee hearing on the health care workforce shortage

On February 10, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety held a hearing entitled, “Recruiting, Revitalizing & Diversifying: Examining the Health Care Workforce Shortage.” The committee and witnesses discussed the health care workforce shortage and opportunities to alleviate them now and, in the future, in addition to opportunities to build a diverse pipeline of next generation providers. Dr. Margaret Flinter from the National Nurse Practitioner Residency and Fellowship Training Consortium said nurse practitioners (NPs) are the next generation of primary care providers, but that we must provide them with adequate training to effectively serve in this way. She and others also spoke about the importance of health care providers working to the fullest extent of their license and ways to eliminate “double work,” such as through e-consults and prioritization of specialty visits for those who truly need them. Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana spoke about the need to reach potential medical professionals early on in life through STEM and other outreach programs, and how high-quality faculty and quality facilities can enable them with the support they need to succeed. Other discussed how government loan forgiveness programs can help to bring health care professionals into underserved areas, and that in many times that is where they will continue to practice, something they called “imprinting.”

On a somewhat different note, Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Braun (R-IN) spoke about the lack of transparency and choice in the U.S. health care system and said they need better ideas, not just more money to throw at the problem. Rachel Greszler from The Heritage Foundation agreed that money is not the answer and said that they should focus on removing barriers that are exacerbating the workforce shortage such as vaccine mandates and other burdensome regulations, which Sen. Braun also expressed concern over, and noted that states are ultimately the “keepers” of who can practice.

Several Senators touted their legislation throughout the hearing, targeted at various workforce issues. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) discussed bipartisan legislation that would allow medical and dental residents interest free deferment on their student loans while serving in medical or dental internship or residency programs and Sen Bill Cassidy (R-LA) discussed his legislation, the John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2021 (S. 320), which would expand eligibility for research endowments available through the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD).

More information is available here and in the attached Tax Alert.


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HELP hearing on health care workforce shortage