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  • Washington Highlights

    HRSA Administrator Testifies on Provider Relief Fund and Health Workforce Shortages


    Katherine Cruz, Legislative Analyst
    For Media Inquiries

    On April 26, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Carole Johnson provided testimony on the Provider Relief Fund (PRF), established in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136), and health workforce shortages during a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education).  

    Johnson’s testimony focused on HRSA’s efforts to support the nation’s health care infrastructure during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the key role the HRSA health workforce programs play in growing and retaining the health workforce. She urged the subcommittee to extend and increase funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program and to invest in the HRSA Title VII Behavioral Health Workforce Development programs; the Title VII Supporting the Mental Health of the Health Professions Workforce program, authorized through the AAMC-endorsed Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (P.L. 117-105); and the Title VIII nursing workforce development programs. Her testimony also detailed the ways HRSA supported health care providers with PRF funding and mitigated fraudulent use. 

    In his opening remarks, Chair Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) expressed support for the initial intent of the PRF but cited instances of “improper payments, wasted funds, [and] funds remaining in the Provider Relief Fund that are being used for purposes other than what was originally intended.” He also outlined the need to bolster the health workforce and address shortages in rural areas that he felt are facing a disproportionate threat compared to other areas. Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) cited the AAMC’s workforce projections report in her remarks; reiterated support for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME), NHSC, and the HRSA Title VII and VIII programs; and voiced concerns about the impact that House Republican debt ceiling suspension proposal and related spending cuts to federal health care programs would have on the health workforce. Other members of the subcommittee discussed how medical inflation has become an impediment to providers’ ability to continue practicing medicine, and the importance of recruiting more qualified clinical faculty and ensuring sustainability in the workforce grant programs. 

    Earlier this year, the AAMC submitted written outside witness testimony to the House  Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee reiterating its FY 2024 funding priorities, including for HRSA health workforce programs [refer to Washington Highlights, March 24].