HHS Announces $250 Million in Primary Care Workforce Funding!

Krystal E. Knight, MPH

Last Wednesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and HRSA Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield announced the availability of $250 million in new funding provided by the health reform law, the Affordable Care Act, to “increase the number of health care providers and strengthen the primary care workforce.” This new funding is the first allocation from the $500 million appropriated to the Prevention and Public Health Fund for FY 2010.

According to the Secretary, the new funding will support the training and development of 16,000 new primary care providers through 2015.

The $250 million currently available for strengthening the primary care workforce will be used as follows:

  • $168 million to train 500 new primary care physicians over the next five years by creating new primary care residency slots;
  • $32 million to support the development of 600 new physician assistants;
  • $30 million to transition 600 part-time nursing students to full-time students;
  • $15 million for the operation of 10 nurse-managed health clinics (including CHCs managed by an advanced practice nurse); and
  • $5 million for states to plan and implement strategies to expand their primary care workforce by 10 to 25 percent over the next 10 years.

Another $250 million in Prevention and Public Health Funding was announced late Friday afternoon, and will go towards community and clinical prevention, public health infrastructure, research and tracking, and public health training. A fact sheet with more detail on these funds is available on the HHS website.

NACHC is dedicated to strengthening the primary care workforce, and this funding is a strong indication that the Administration recognizes that investments in primary care are paramount to realizing health reform’s goal of increasing access to quality care. In a press release, Secretary stated that: “Primary care providers are on the front line in helping Americans stay healthy by preventing disease, treating illness, and helping to manage chronic conditions.” Dr. Wakefield added that the announcement was “a strong indication of our commitment and one of many steps in the right direction.”   Health centers certainly agree!

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