The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) applauds the introduction of the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act, a bipartisan bill being led by Senators Sanders (D-VT) and Marshall (R-KS), which aims to address the primary care crisis in America and the major shortages of nurses, primary care physicians, and other important healthcare jobs across the U.S. and to increase critical funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), and Teaching Health Centers. The legislation will be marked up (debated and/or revised) in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP Committee) on Thursday, September 21.
Section 103 of this bill reauthorizes mandatory funding for the NHSC at $950 million per year from FY2024 to FY2026, totaling $2.85 billion. Increased funding is estimated to support 20,000 new loan repayment awards and 2,100 scholarship awards per year to qualified healthcare providers working in underserved urban, rural, and tribal areas. ACU is proud to have been a driving advocate for legislation that strengthens and enhances the current NHSC field strength.
“ACU applauds the leadership and vision of Senators Sanders and Marshall in introducing this bipartisan legislation to support critical funding for the NHSC, a program that enables over 20,000 clinicians to provide primary care, dental, mental and behavioral health services to over 21 million people in medically underserved communities across the U.S.,” said Amanda Pears Kelly, Executive Director of ACU. “The Corps has a 50-year track record of success in strengthening the healthcare workforce and advancing health equity, and this bill sets us on the path to preserve funding for its lifechanging work. We urge Congress to unite behind the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act, a key bipartisan effort to continue funding the Corps to bring care within reach for those who need it most.”
Since 1972, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has worked to build healthier communities by placing more than 69,500 healthcare providers to date in medically underserved areas of nearly every U.S. state and territory. More than 158 million people reside in primary care health professional shortage areas (HPSAs), and the NHSC aims to provide care for these populations by offering scholarships and loan repayments to providers who agree to serve in HPSA areas served by health centers, rural health clinics, Indian Health Service sites, and other facilities.
Unfortunately, the Corps’ funding is now in jeopardy, with no guaranteed funding beyond Sept. 30. Furthermore, existing funding levels allow for a field strength that is but a fraction of the more than 52,000 providers necessary to fully meet needs in all HPSAs, making not only preserving but strengthening Corps funding critical.
Now is a critical time to support the effort to preserve and extend funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC)! We need your voice to urge legislators to support bipartisan initiatives to renew the NHSC’s funding. Become an ACU advocate today, keep up-to-date on what’s happening, take action, and ask your friends and colleagues to join us as well!
Jordan Marshall, Your ACU Advocacy Contact
Jordan Marshall is leading ACU’s grassroots advocacy to secure long-term funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Contact Jordan with any questions regarding policy analysis or if ACU can be of assistance with your own organizational or individual advocacy.