Harris announces $1.5 billion investment in healthcare workforce
Washington Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday that the Biden administration is investing $1.5 billion in a coronavirus aid package to address health care worker shortages in underserved communities.
The funding will go to the National Health Service Corps, nurse practitioners and substance use disorder treatment and recovery programs, and all federal programs that provide scholarships and loan repayments to health care students and workers if they pledge to work in disadvantaged and at-risk communities.
“Our nation must invest in a healthcare workforce that is like America, and provide access to equitable healthcare for all Americans,” Harris said.
The funds, which include funds from the US bailout and other sources, will support more than 22,700 providers, representing the largest number of providers enrolled in such programs in history, according to the White House. It comes in response to recommendations laid out earlier this month by the White House COVID-19 Health Equality Task Force, which released a report outlining how the administration can address systemic inequality in the health care system.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated health care disparities among minorities and disadvantaged communities. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, over the course of the pandemic, American minorities have experienced higher numbers of cases and higher death rates than their white counterparts.
COVID-19 did not invent the health disparity. Just ask any healthcare professional and they’ll tell you: health disparities existed long before this virus reached our shores. Health disparities stem from broader systemic inequalities.”
It’s just a newer investment from the $1.9 trillion US bailout, passed in March of this year, aimed at tackling health disparities between minorities and disadvantaged communities. Earlier this month, the White House announced an additional $785 million in funding for federal programs aimed at improving diversity in the public health workforce and supporting people with disabilities.
During Monday’s event, Harris pushed for the passage of nearly $2 trillion in President Joe Biden’s Social Safety Net and Climate Change Package, which will provide funding to temporarily close the Medicaid coverage gap and expand access to health insurance market benefits through 2025.
Harris said the package would also constitute a historic investment in maternal health “to address the tragedy of black maternal mortality in America.”
Black women in the United States are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as others, in part because of the racial bias they may experience in accessing care and physicians’ lack of awareness of risk factors such as high blood pressure.
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