Flat Funding for the National Health Service Corps in Fiscal Year 2024 Will Mean 2,000 Fewer Clinicians Providing Care in Medically Underserved Communities

On March 1, President Biden signed the fourth Fiscal Year 2024 continuing resolution (CR) into law, avoiding yet another partial government shutdown with less than 24 hours to spare. Congress decided to extend funding to the government from March 1 and 8 to March 8 and 22. For the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), mandatory funding is still set to expire on March 8.

Recently, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved (ACU) heard troubling reports about CR extensions lasting through Sept. 30 or Dec. 31, 2024, for all health extender programs, including the NHSC, Community Health Centers, and Teaching Health Centers. NHSC funding is currently caught up in a much larger political/budget fight, which is why ACU focused on outreach this week with the Congressional staff of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and leaders of the appropriations committees of both the House and Senate.

What Flat Funding Costs the Corps—And Our Communities

ACU warned leadership staff about the consequences of failing to deliver the NHSC funding we need to care for patients in medically underserved communities across this country. The stakes are high, as this is a critical time for the Corps. Due to the funding cycle and timing of awards, NHSC Scholars, particularly, are making decisions about where they will train and practice medicine right now. Simply put, if the Corps is underfunded, they will go elsewhere.

Public HRSA data shows this fear to be true. As predicted, a significant decrease in the total award amount from 2022 to 2023 led to the NHSC program having nearly 2,000 fewer participants. Flat funding for FY24 is expected to decrease the NHSC field strength by another 2,000 participants and return the NHSC field strength to FY20 levels.

NHSC Funding and Field Strength from 2019-2024

2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
NHSC Total Award Amount $299.6M $437.9M $699.5M $684.7M $399.9M
NHSC Field Strength 13,053 16,229 19,984 20,215 18,335
People Receiving Care 13.7M 17M 23.6M 21M 19M
Total Awards 6,735 9,960 12,532 11,390 7,029

All data pulled from HRSA Fact Sheets FY19-23. HRSA’s total award amount represents a combination of recoveries from prior years across all programs; therefore, HRSA’s total award amount may not match the NHSC funding total for a particular fiscal year. NHSC funding is available until expended.

We Can’t Afford to Go Backward: Let’s Keep Lifting Our Voice for the Corps

Over the next three weeks, ACU will oppose every call for a full-year continuing resolution and continue working with House and Senate leadership to encourage action on the Bipartisan Primary Care and Health Workforce Act (S. 2840), which would include $950 million in annual NHSC funding for FY2024-2026. Now, more than ever, we need your help to make this happen! Thank you for your support and advocacy so far, and please stay tuned for further updates and encourage your colleagues to become ACU Advocates as well!

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Jordan Marshall, Your ACU Advocacy Contact

Jordan Marshall, Deputy Director of Policy & AdvocacyJordan 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.