Last week, the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing examining several public health workforce programs, including the National Health Service Corps. ACU Board Member and NHSC alumnus, Dr. Adrian Billings testified before the committee sharing the personal impact the NHSC has made in his life and the lives of the patients he serves in rural West Texas. Dr. Billings highlighted the urgency of reauthorizing funding for the NHSC and urged Congress to act immediately, stating:
On October 1, 2017, the NHSC will continue to function, but no new awards can be made, effectively eliminating the next generation of NHSC clinicians. As we face a rapidly aging and growing population, primary and preventative care services will become increasingly needed and the NHSC program has proven to be an effective program to address this need. I can assure you, as an alumnus of this program that the NHSC is one of the most effective programs this country has devised to enable primary care providers to choose primary care and to serve in underserved communities.
ACU was proud to be represented by Dr. Billings and is grateful to Chairman Michael Burgess, Ranking Member Gene Green and the Members of the Subcommittee for holding this hearing.
Member Quotes from the hearing:
“Today’s hearing provides us with an opportunity to begin a discussion on how best to address provider shortages in our country and how to ensure that today’s medical students have the skills and resources to succeed in the 21st century… For example, programs like the National Health Service Corps, Area Health Education Centers supported by Title VII grants, and Teaching Health Centers tackle these shortages head on by connecting young providers with underserved communities. These programs are essential to addressing the nation’s provider shortages by connecting providers to underserved communities.”
“The National Health Service Corps and the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program have funding that will expire at the end of the fiscal year, and our Subcommittee is working to ensuring these programs will continue to operate and serve communities in coming years. As is the case with all programs with mandatory funding, finding offsets can be challenging, but I am committed to finding a solution and extending these programs.”
– Chairman Michael C. Burgess (R-TX-26)
“Investments in our health care workforce are investments in the long term prosperity of our health care ecosystem.”
– Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA-06)
“By bringing together all the expert of the witnesses here today you are helping us strengthen the future of our community health care system including teaching health centers and the NHSC. Thank you for your commitment. Thank you for your work.”
– Representative Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-04)
“You and your colleagues are surely no strangers to the growing shortage of medical professionals across the country. In your testimony you acknowledge the NHSC as an effective – even popular way – to overcome the recruitment barrier for medical shortage areas.”
– Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12) speaking to Dr. Billings
“Well, we obviously need to reauthorize. It’s absolutely essential. But we can’t be self-congratulatory by simply doing that. I think you have all made the case that the funding has to be appropriated for it. We have work to do. I hope the outcome will be worthy of the work that you do.”
– Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18)