Affordable Care Act invests in public health workforce
In 2008, candidate Barack Obama promised to make public health a priority.
He championed government investment to boost the pool of public health workers — already short on epidemiologists, biostatisticians, toxicologists, nutritionists, and environmental and maternal health specialists.
The Association of Schools of Public Health warned of a "looming workforce crisis.”
And that was before a sustained economic downturn strained state and local governments, and in turn the public health workforce.
Still, the Affordable Care Act included "significant help” toward recruitment of public health workers, said Michael Stephens, senior director for policy for the association.
Obamacare's Prevention and Public Health Fund in 2012 put more than $50 million toward the challenge, including:
• $25 million for fellowships sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to train public health professionals.
• $23.9 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration to support public health training centers.
• $1.1 million to HRSA for public health traineeships to boost the number of professionals in underserved public health fields.
It's still a challenging time for public health. But Obama's health care law represented a "positive response,” Stephens said. We rate this Promise Kept.
Government Printing Office, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, March 23, 2010
Health and Human Services Department, "Obama administration takes new action to improve public health," Aug. 29, 2012
HHS.gov/Open, "Prevention and Public Health Fund," accessed Dec. 7, 2012
Health Resources and Services Administration, "Public Health Training Centers,” accessed Dec. 7, 2012
Health Resources and Services Administration, "The Future of Public Health Training Centers," accessed Dec. 7, 2012
Email interview, Michael Stephens, senior director for policy, Association of Schools of Public Health, Dec. 6, 2012
Association of Schools of Public Health, "Confronting the Public Health Workforce Crisis," December 2008
Association of Schools of Public Health, "ASPH Celebrates Supreme Court Ruling on Affordable Care Act," June 28, 2012
Health bill includes new recruitment initiatives for public workers
After months of talking about health care reform, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced major legislation to overhaul the nation's health care system. House Democrats unveiled the 1,000-plus-page bill, called America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, on July 14, and it includes most of President Barack Obama's key proposals on health reform.
One of Obama's campaign pledges was to improve recruitment of public health care workers. The bill includes several programs designed to do that, with an emphasis on providing additional training and incentives for those in primary care.
The bill also creates an Advisory Committee on Health Workforce Evaluation and Assessment, to assess the "adequacy and appropriateness of the health workforce," and to make recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services on federal workforce policy.
We should be clear that there's a long way to go — maybe months — before this bill becomes law. It has to get through the Senate, where many an ambitious House bill has seen its hopes dashed.
Nevertheless, the bill marks significant, measurable progress on Obama's promise, and we rate it In the Works.
, introduced July 14, 2009
U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, House Democrats Introduce Bill to Provide Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans , July 14, 2009