The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee today held a hearing on how to address the growing shortage of physicians, nurses and other health care professionals, especially in rural areas, as the U.S. population ages. “It is my hope that the committee will soon begin working on solutions to address these shortages,” said Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN). The committee has jurisdiction over about 70 health care workforce programs, including programs that provide scholarship and loan repayment in exchange for working in underserved areas and grants for children’s hospitals that train physicians and dentists. “These are great programs with a positive impact – but we need to invest in that impact on a larger scale, because compared to the scope of the challenge, we’re fighting fires with a squirt gun,” said Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA). The AHA has urged Congress to reject reductions in Medicare funding for graduate medical education and pass the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act to increase the number of Medicare-funded residency positions. The association also supports appropriate funding of training programs for nurses and other health care professionals, and actions to expand scope of practice laws and allow all clinicians to practice at the top of their license.

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