The fifth Title of the Affordable Care Act focuses on the Healthcare Workforce. This title consists of 257 pages, 8 subtitles, and 50 sections (!) According to the Act, the purpose of this title is to improve access to and the delivery of health care services for all individuals, particularly low income, underserved, uninsured, minority, health disparity, and rural populations. Access and delivery of health care will be accomplished by:
• Gathering data to determine if the current health care workforce is able to meet the needs of individuals
• Increasing the supply of qualified health care workers to improve access to and the delivery of health care services
• Enhancing health care workforce education and training to improve access to and the delivery of health care services
• Supporting the existing health care workforce to improve access to and the delivery of health care services
After 12 pages of definitions for the different types of health care workers, the Act jumps in to discuss innovations in health care. Much of the language of this section focuses on analyzing the current numbers of health care workers and the types of grants that will be available to ensure sufficient numbers of health care workers are available to meet the care demands of the population. These grants will be available through state and federal application processes.
Information about student loans can be found on the section on increasing the supply of the health care workforce. Here it states that parental financial information is not required to determine financial need for an independent student and the determination of financial need will be at the discretion of each school loan officer.
One section focuses on the physician workforce needed for the pediatric population and outlines a specific loan repayment process. For any physician who is agrees to work specifically for the pediatric population, for a period no less than 2 years, up to $35,000 of federal money will be applied to that physician’s school loans. The physician cannot participate in this program for more than 3 years. A similar loan repayment program is identified for those who agree to work in the public health sector. Any professional who does not comply with the expectations will be found in breach of contract and will have to repay the federal money awarded to pay for the loans.
Money is also available for nurse-managed health clinics or a practice that is managed by an advanced practice nurse. The clinic must be associated with a school, college, university or department of nursing, federally qualified health center, or independent nonprofit health or social services agency.
Although the subtitle Enhancing Health Care Workforce Education and Training begins with information on strengthening the education of primary physicians, this section includes information of importance to nurses, specifically:
• Awards available for advanced practice nurses pursuing doctoral education in the care of geriatric clients
• Increasing the amount of loans available for nurses planning to become school of nursing instructors
• Grants to attend midwifery programs
• Grants for career ladder programs
I found the information about the United States Public Health & Sciences track to be interesting. This track will be offered through select universities and will grant advanced degrees that focus on team-based service, public health, epidemiology, and emergency preparedness and response. The plan is to graduate from this track each year:
• 150 medical students
• 100 dental students
• 250 nursing students
• 100 public health students
• 100 behavioral and mental health professional students
• 100 physician assistant or nurse practitioner students
• 50 pharmacy students
Additional information in this Title addresses initiatives to strengthen the current healthcare workforce such as providing:
• Scholarships for students to support learning about diversity
• Grants for students from disadvantaged backgrounds
• Continuing educational support for health professionals serving in underserved communities
The content for this title ends after information about expanding the access of primary care and general surgery services, physician residency programs, and demonstration projects to increase teaching capacity, and graduate nursing education.
After reading one half of the Affordable Care Act totaling 1500 pages I am wondering what else can possibly be included to address health care needs. Well, Title VI focuses on Transparency and Program Integrity. I better start reading now…. See you next week!