The AAMC, along with 11 other health organizations, endorsed the Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act (S. 54) on Jan. 26. The bill is bipartisan legislation that would provide an investment in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and is similar to legislation that was introduced in the 116th Congress [see Washington Highlights, June 26, 2020].
The legislation, introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), would provide $5 billion in emergency supplemental funding to the NHSC and $1 billion for the Nurse Corps program. Of the amount appropriated to the NHSC, 40% would be dedicated to racial and ethnic minority health providers and students from low-income and rural communities.
The bill also creates an Emergency Service Corps for Surge Capacity, which would expand the NHSC to allow members to serve in emergency capacities through the National Disaster Medical System. Those serving in the Emergency Service Corps for Surge Capacity role would be eligible for loan repayment while helping to expand our nation’s preparedness and surge capacity.
Upon introduction, Sen. Durbin noted, “COVID-19 has demonstrated the need for a national policy that increases the number of health workers to address shortages, medical disparities, and respond to emergencies. The Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act expands the NHSC, NDMS, and Nurse Corps programs, boosting our care capacity, especially in underserved communities.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant shortages in our emergency health response workforce, especially in underserved and minority communities. America’s frontline workers have demonstrated tremendous heroism throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is time for Congress to step up and address the significant personnel shortages,” added Sen. Rubio.
The AAMC joined other health organizations in a Jan. 28 letter to congressional leadership, urging the inclusion of supplemental funding for the NHSC in the next COVID-19 package. Previous COVID-19 relief package proposals included supplemental emergency funding for the NHSC [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 11, 2020].