ADA joins coalition seeking more funding for public health workforce programs

The ADA joined 120 other health organizations in urging Congress to fully fund the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program and to provide funding to launch the Health Resources and Services Administration’s new Bio-Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program in fiscal year 2024.

The coalition of 121 organizations, in a March 24 letter , asked Rep. Robert Aderholdt, R-AL, chair and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, ranking member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health & Human Services, and Education to allocate $100 million in FY 2024 for the Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program and $50 million to launch the Bio-Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program.

“Investing in these bipartisan programs wouldpromote the recruitment and retention of as many as 2,000 public health professionals at local, state, and tribal public health agencies across the country, and as many as 1,000 [infectious disease] and HIV health care professionals in rural and urban health professional shortage areas, medically underserved communities or federal facilities by offering loan repayment in exchange for three-year service commitments. These commonsense incentives will help ensure our public health and infectious disease workforces grow sufficiently to keep our communities safe and healthy in the years to come.”

The letter said that the state and local public health workforce – the backbone of the nation’sgovernmental public health system – has lost 15% of essential staff in the past decade and 80,000 more full-time hires are needed to provide a minimum package of essential services, including screening and treatment for both chronic and communicable diseases; maternal and child health services; epidemiology and surveillance; routine immunizations; primary prevention services; and regulation, inspection or licensing.

The coalition also said that the nation’s infectious disease workforce faces shortages and a lack of financial incentives for recruitment and retention among infectious disease and HIV health care professionals, including infectious disease physicians, clinical microbiologists, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, infection preventionists and dentists. Communities without infectious disease health care professionals will be less equipped to respond to threats like antimicrobial resistance, health care associated infections and infectious diseases associated with the opioid epidemic, and less able to advance federal initiatives to end the HIV epidemic and eliminate viral hepatitis.

The Bio-Preparedness Workforce Pilot Program would provide student loan repayment to dentists who undertake careers in infectious disease in underserved areas. For example, dentists who provide care to patients with HIV/AIDS through the Ryan White program could be eligible for student loan repayment.

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at .

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