Focus on Health Care Reform: National Health Care Workforce Commission

With the expansion of Medicaid and the individual mandate to obtain health insurance brought about by Health System Reform comes the need for expanded access to quality health care providers.   In an attempt to address the inevitable shortage of medical providers the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has called for the creation of a National Health Care Workforce Commission.   The legislation requires that this group be appointed and operational no later than September 30th of this year and to prepare, the U.S. Government Accountability Office has been seeking recommendations for members throughout the summer. 

The Commission will be tasked with determining if the demand for health care workers is being met, identifying possible barriers to health care workforce development and making recommendations to Congress based on their findings.

Fifteen members will serve on the Commission, each appointed to three year terms by the Comptroller General. Health care professionals cannot constitute more than half of the workforce, leaving other seats open to representatives of employers, third party payers, health care economists, consumers, labor unions, educational institutions, and state or local workforce investment boards.

Legislators have penned specific priorities for the Commission to focus on throughout the course of their evaluations which include integrated workforce planning for nursing, oral, mental, public, allied, and emergency health providers.  Also of significance is the Commission’s ability to evaluate existing scopes of practice in the health care sector and make recommendations to Congress.

The creation of the National Health Care Workforce Commission is accompanied by a number of development grants for eligible State Workforce Development Boards to analyze local health care workforce needs and provide resources to help meet those needs. Individual providers may also apply for a number of workforce development grants or loan repayment programs.   Many of these opportunities are focused on growing the nursing field, however programs also exist to repay loans for pediatric and public health physicians as well.


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