Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Michael Burgess, MD, (R-Texas) May 16 introduced the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 2781), which would reauthorize the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII health professions pipeline, education, and training programs through 2024.
In a press release announcing the bill, Rep. Schakowsky stated, “By 2032, the United States may face a shortage of over 100,000 physicians. And if health care access were equitable across race, health insurance coverage, and geographic location, we would require almost 100,000 more physicians today. That is unacceptable for our growing, aging population, for children, and for all vulnerable communities.”
Dr. Burgess added, “This legislation reauthorizes key Title VII funding, which increases access to physicians and other providers in underserved areas, and promotes training opportunities for physicians to maintain and improve their skills. This bipartisan legislation has broad support, and I urge the Energy and Commerce Committee to consider it soon.”
In the same press release, the AAMC noted that “the HRSA Title VII health professions pipeline, education, and training programs are critical in helping shape and prepare our nation’s health workforce to address new and emerging public health challenges in rural and other underserved communities across the country,” and, “We applaud this bipartisan reauthorization for recognizing the importance of these programs and the need to increase the federal investment in our nation’s health workforce infrastructure.”
The legislation would increase the authorization for most Title VII programs by 5% over the fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriated levels, 7.2% for Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), and 25% for Geriatric Programs. The legislation also provides flat funding authorization for the Pediatric Loan Repayment program, which has yet to receive an appropriation.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a hearing on Title VII reauthorization in June.