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Understanding the U.S. Health Care Workforce Shortage

House subcommittee hearing addresses shortages, president’s budget proposal, HRSA program oversight

April 19, 2023

The health care workforce crisis requires immediate action to alleviate shortages and protect access to care, federal lawmakers said today.

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce health subcommittee hosted a hearing about supporting the health care workforce and increasing access to primary care. Carole Johnson, administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), discussed the agency’s workforce programs and steps to recruit, retain, develop the next generation of clinicians.

“For the last several years, our entire nation has witnessed first-hand the dedication and fortitude of our health care workforce,” Johnson said in testimony today. “At the same time, we are experiencing critical challenges as we work to retain and grow the health care workforce.”

Among the key topics discussed during today’s hearing:

  • By the numbers:  By 2030, there will be a shortage of 17,210 primary care physicians and a 20 percent decrease in behavioral health workers.
  • Easier pathways to care:  Making the licensing and credentialing process easier would support clinicians interested in returning to the workforce from other roles, Johnson said.
    • Johnson said that multistate compacts have the potential to help ensure providers can work across state lines and provide flexibility.
  • Innovation center:  In President Biden’s proposed budget, HRSA would launch an innovation program focused on health care workforce training and updating how workers are prepared and trained to practice.
  • 340B:  Federal lawmakers said they plan to introduce legislation to help better understand the 340B program, which allows qualifying facilities that care for low-income and uninsured patients to purchase outpatient prescription drugs at discounted prices.
  • Organ transplant overhaul:  HRSA plans to review the efficiency of the nation’s Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network and identify opportunities to modernize the existing system, Johnson said.

Lawmakers also discussed how the end of Medicaid’s continuous enrollment provision would affect overall health coverage, and the potential financial challenges for facilities caring for large populations of Medicaid patients.

Today’s hearing and the testimony are available online.

HAP and Pennsylvania’s hospitals are focused on growing our health care workforce. HAP—led by its Health Care Talent Task Force—has developed a comprehensive policy roadmap to support the needs of health care professionals and their employers, and to ensure high-quality care remains available in Pennsylvania.

For additional information, contact John Myers, vice president, federal advocacy.