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  • Washington Highlights

    House Passes Title VII Reauthorization; AAMC, HPNEC Host Congressional Briefing

    Brett Roude, Legislative Analyst
    Matthew Shick, Sr. Director, Gov't Relations & Regulatory Affairs

    The House of Representatives Oct. 28 passed under suspension of the rules the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 2781). The legislation reauthorizes many of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Title VII health professions pipeline, education, and training programs through 2024 [see Washington Highlights, May 17].

    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.

    Upon the bill’s passage, the AAMC released a statement noting, “These programs support efforts to build a diverse, culturally competent health professions pipeline and a workforce that meets the needs of individuals in both rural and urban underserved communities. As we face nationwide shortages in the health professions, investment through Title VII programs in the public health, geriatric, and pediatric workforces will create a robust network of providers who are trained to serve some of the most vulnerable patients.”

    The statement continues, “In order to fully realize the benefit of today’s action, we urge the Senate to take up and pass this bill. Further, Congress must work quickly in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to complete the FY 2020 appropriations process and pass a full-year funding bill that provides robust support for these and other vital programs” [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 27].

    The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Oct. 31 marked-up legislation that would reauthorize the Title VIII nursing workforce development programs, and is expected to introduce Title VII reauthorization legislation before the next committee mark-up.

    In light of congressional action around Title VII and Title VIII funding and reauthorization, the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC), an AAMC-led group of 70 national organizations, hosted an Oct. 30 congressional briefing titled, “HRSA Workforce Development: Innovating our Health Care Pipeline, Training, and Delivery Systems.”

    Speakers included:

    • Ellen Flaherty, Ph.D., MSN, APRN, assistant professor of medicine, Geisel School of Medicine; co-director, Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
    • Marja Hurley, M.D, professor of medicine and orthopedic surgery; associate dean, Department of Health Career Opportunity Programs; founding director, Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative, University of Connecticut Health Center.
    • Lepaine Sharp-McHenry, DNP, RN, FACDONA, dean of the College of Natural, Behavioral, and Health Sciences, Simmons University.

    The speakers detailed how Title VII and Title VIII grants have led to innovative ways of creating pipeline programs for underrepresented minorities to practice in the health professions, work in an interprofessional manner, and utilize technology as a tool to serve all patients.

    The panelists discussed how federal funding for Health Careers Opportunity Programs, Geriatric Programs, and Nursing Workforce Training programs have led to a more competent health workforce who are motivated to practice in medically underserved areas.

    As budget negotiations continue for FY 2020 [see related story], HPNEC recommends $690 million for HRSA Title VII and Title VIII programs for the panelists to continue their essential work [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 20].