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Ranjan Jindal
By Ranjan Jindal July 9, 2024

The CDC and AmeriCorps train new public health workforce, but at a limited capacity

The Public Health AmeriCorps, a new initiative created by President Joe Biden's administration, is being deployed across the country, but at a smaller scale than Biden initially promised. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and AmeriCorps — an agency for service and volunteers — partnered to fund new public health workers through the Biden administration's American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus and economic relief bill that Biden signed within weeks of taking office in 2021. Initially, the investment was a five-year, $400 million deal to recruit and train workers. 

However, the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which Congress passed in 2023 to extend the debt ceiling to January 2025, cut nearly half of this plan's funding. The program is not funded beyond 2024. Despite the cut, Public Health AmeriCorps had created 4,700 new public health workers as of June 1, AmeriCorps said in a statement to PolitiFact. 

AmeriCorps gives members as young as 17 years old a stipend for a year of training in locations across the country, and then funding to further their education or advance in public health careers. Members get résumé support and must complete an online public health developmental course

Public health workers try to prevent disease nationwide by tracking and researching infectious diseases. They also educate underserved populations about public health crises and develop policies to promote health equity.   

Health policy experts say this investment into public health workers is a step in the right direction toward addressing a national health care worker shortage. A 2023 study published in Health Affairs, a peer-reviewed health care journal, shows that in their sample of more than 150,000 state and local public health workers, nearly half of them left the field from 2017 to 2021. The study also said three-fourths of workers 35 years old and younger left the workforce in that time period. The AmeriCorps investment has so far trained workers in all 50 states, and 70% of the members are younger than 30, according to the CDC. 

Staff retention problems in public health carried over from the 2008 financial crisis and were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the study said. 

"I do think it provided an important model given the significant challenges the country faces with the depletion of the public health workforce," said Jen Kates, the senior vice president at KFF, a nonprofit health policy organization.

Because Biden was unable to use the full American Rescue Plan investment to create a larger public health workforce, he has fallen short of the goal to create 100,000 new public health workers. But the AmeriCorps plan Biden created expands the public health workforce. We rate this promise a Compromise.

Our Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Public Health AmeriCorps | PH Workforce, April 4, 2024

AmeriCorps, White House Announces $400 Million for Public Health AmeriCorps, May 13, 2021

AmeriCorps, 2024 Public Health AmeriCorps, Accessed June 12, 2024

The Nation's Health, One year in, AmeriCorps boosts US public health workforce, August, 2023

Congress.Gov, H.R.3746 - 118th Congress (2023-2024): Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 | | Library of Congress, May 29, 2023

Health Affairs, Minnesota Public Health Corps: A New Model For Building The Governmental Public Health Workforce, June 2024

Health Affairs, The Exodus Of State And Local Public Health Employees: Separations Started Before And Continued Throughout COVID-19, March 2023

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, A Unique Partnership Public Health AmeriCorps, April 4, 2024

Email interview, Jen Kates, senior vice president at KFF, June 11, 2024

White House, Statement to PolitiFact, June 10, 2024

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Statement to PolitiFact, June 18, 2024

AmeriCorps, Statement to PolitiFact, June 18, 2024

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson January 12, 2022
Victoria Knight
By Victoria Knight January 12, 2022

AmeriCorps is creating a public health jobs corps

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, presidential candidate Joe Biden promised to create a public health jobs corps. 

While his administration hasn't funded a program of at least 100,000 people, the number Biden promised, it has created a smaller job corps through AmeriCorps, the existing, federally sponsored service program.

The effort, called Public Health AmeriCorps, stems from $400 million provided under the American Rescue Plan Act, the coronavirus and economic relief bill that Biden signed within weeks of taking office. 

The plan is to support up to 5,000 AmeriCorps positions over the next five years. Existing organizations were invited to apply for grants to fund these positions by Nov. 8, 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a partner in the initiative.

Roughly 1,000 new public health workers could be deployed to communities as soon as May 2022, Morning Consult reported

Karen Dahl, AmeriCorps' COVID-19 adviser, told Morning Consult that the initiative is "a complement to other professions and pipelines."

The scale of the program is smaller than what Biden initially proposed, but new, federally funded health care workers should be deployed soon through the AmeriCorps partnership. We rate this promise In the Works.

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