The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Dec. 12 advanced the Title VII Health Care Workforce Act (S. 2997), which would reauthorize the Title VII health professions diversity pipeline and workforce development programs. The Committee approved the legislation by voice vote.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), would provide authorization levels for the Title VII programs that match fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations levels [see Washington Highlights, Sept. 14, 2018]. The AAMC Dec. 11 submitted a letter to HELP Committee Chair Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) stating, “While we are grateful for the Committee’s consideration of the Title VII Health Care Workforce Act of 2019, the AAMC urges lawmakers to work in a bipartisan, bicameral manner to provide robust authorization levels for these essential programs.”
During the Committee meeting, Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Murray, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) discussed the importance of investing in our nation’s health workforce. Ranking Member Murray highlighted how the Title VII programs “support our health workforce, address our health care providers shortage, and increase access to patient care, especially in our rural and medically underserved communities.”
As part of the markup, the Committee adopted an amendment in the nature of a substitute that added the Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act (S. 299) and the Investment in Tomorrow's Pediatric Health Care Workforce Act (S. 2443) to S. 2997. These two bills reauthorize the Title VII geriatric and pediatric workforce development programs, respectively.
Earlier this fall, the House of Representatives passed the EMPOWER for Health Act (H.R. 2781), which included 5% increases over FY 2019 appropriated levels for most Title VII programs, 7.2% for Area Health Education Centers (AHECs), 25% for Geriatric Programs, and 41% for Health Career Opportunity Programs [see Washington Highlights, Nov. 1].
The Senate hopes to pass the Title VII Health Care Workforce Act this winter.