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HHS Announces Investment to Strengthen Primary Care Workforce

June 18, 2010

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, along with Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D., R.N., June 16 announced the availability of $250 million to develop and strengthen the primary care workforce. The funds will be used to boost the supply of primary care providers over the next five years and include:

  • $168 million for a "Primary Care Residency Expansion" (PCRE) initiative;
  • $32 million for supporting physician assistant training in primary care;
  • $30 million for encouraging students to pursue full-time nursing careers;
  • $15 million for establishing new nurse practitioner-led health clinics; and
  • $5 million for encouraging states to plan for and address health professional workforce needs.

According to the grant announcement for the PCRE initiative, $168 million will be made available for 105 expected awards to increase enrollment in accredited primary care residency programs (i.e., family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatric medicine). The five year program will support residency training positions that are over and above the number currently being trained, even if a program is already over its CMS authorized GME cap. All funding for the PCRE program will be provided in FY 2010. Applications are due on July 19, and applicants may only request support for one residency program/discipline per application.

In a June 17 statement, AAMC praised the initiative as "the first of many necessary steps to improve America's health by expanding access to preventive, primary, and specialty medical care" and encouraged Congress and the Obama administration to "take the next step and lift the freeze on Medicare-supported residency training."

The funds for all five initiatives were made available through the Prevention and Public Health Fund established in the Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148), which appropriated $500 million in FY 2010 to support public health and prevention activities.

In conjunction with the announcement of the investments, Secretary Sebelius and Dr. Wakefield held a live webcast to answer questions from the general public about the implementation of health care reform and the role of the workforce. During the webcast, Secretary Sebelius and Dr. Wakefield commented on topics ranging from the importance of primary care to rural Americans, the need for community health centers, as well as the importance of passing the SGR fix. They also answered questions from future medical students regarding the National Health Service Corps and discussed the new investments in nursing and their importance to the primary care workforce. No details regarding implementation of the newly-announced programs were discussed.


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525

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