Washington, D.C. – January 29, 2021 – For Immediate Release – Earlier this week, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to provide a historic investment in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), Nurse Corps, and National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). The Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act, S. 54, will bolster health emergency surge capacity and restore the pipeline of physicians, nurses, and other health professionals to address workforce shortages throughout the country. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed workforce shortfalls while simultaneously imposing unprecedented strains on America’s heroic frontline professionals. This legislation will address these challenges while at the same time creating a critical pipeline of health professionals, with diverse training and backgrounds, to provide care to the nation’s underserved.

Association of Clinicians for the Underserved Executive Director Amanda Pears Kelly issued the following statement:


Amanda Pears Kelly
(202) 492-1395

More than 80 million people in the United States currently live in communities with severe health professional workforce shortages. These shortages lead to reduced access to primary, dental, and mental health care services. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already dire scenario, leaving millions more people struggling to access the care and support services they so desperately need.

The Strengthening American’s Health Care Readiness Act exemplifies much needed bipartisan leadership, modeled by Senators Durbin and Rubio, and provides a clear plan of action to address the nation’s healthcare workforce shortages in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The proposal’s immediate infusion of emergency funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) would fund tens of thousands of provider placements as well as critically needed scholarships to medical students, all of whom will provide care in the nation’s most underserved communities.

The Strengthening America’s Health Care Readiness Act would also create a new demonstration project to establish an Emergency Service partnership between the NHSC and National Disaster Medical System (NMDS) to boost healthcare surge capacity in response to public health emergencies. Through this demonstration project, individuals serving in the NHSC or alumni who continue to practice in health profession shortage areas could concurrently serve in the NDMS and be available for rapid deployment for health emergencies, while receiving loan repayment awards to address their student debt.

ACU applauds Senator Durbin and Senator Rubio for their leadership and decisive action to address the nation’s health care workforce shortages. We look forward to working with Senators Durbin and Rubio, along with their Senate colleagues, to ensure healthcare providers can be placed in communities of highest need at this vital time and beyond to address the nation’s ongoing health care workforce shortage crisis.

About ACU

The Association of Clinicians for the Underserved is a uniquely transdisciplinary membership association uniting clinicians, advocates, and organizations in the shared mission to improve the health of America’s underserved populations and to support the clinicians serving them. ACU provides professional education, training and technical assistance, and clinical tools and programs to thousands of clinicians and organizations every year to improve health equity for the underserved. Founded in 1996 by members and alumni of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), ACU is the leading voice of advocacy for the NHSC, and its collective community includes over 10,000 organizations, individuals, and advocates. To learn more about ACU, visit www.clinicians.org, like ACU on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.