ADEA Issue Watch: Subcommittee on Health Sends Title VII Health Professions Workforce Bill to Full Committee
On June 27, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health marked up five health workforce bills and forwarded them to the full committee for consideration.
H.R. 3728, the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) Act, would reauthorize the health professions workforce programs that support loan repayment for students and faculty and provider training experiences in primary care and dentistry in rural or underserved areas and community-based settings. The bill was originally introduced by Reps. Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX); Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN); and amended by Rep. Burgess, Subcommittee Chair.
Specifically, the programs covered by this reauthorization are the Centers of Excellence, the Health Professions Training for Diversity Program, Primary Care Training and Enhancement grants, Area Health Education Centers, the National Center for Healthcare Workforce Analysis, and—most importantly for dental education—Training in General Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry grants.
For FY19, ADEA asked Congress to support $40.7 million for Oral Health Training in General, Pediatric and Public Health Dentistry under Title VII Health Professions Programs, with a set aside of $12 million for General Dentistry Residencies, $12 million for Pediatric Dentistry Residencies, and $2 million for the Dental Faculty Loan Repayment Program.
Unfortunately, the Title VII authorized levels contained in H.R. 3728, which provide for training in general, pediatric, and public health dentistry for FY20–FY23, are held flat at the FY18 appropriated level of $40,673,000. While this is the funding level we requested for FY19, locking this authorized level into place over the next four years would make any needed programmatic funding increases difficult to achieve. ADEA has joined with our health professions colleagues to inform Members of Congress about the importance of these grants for helping dental education institutions reduce the shortage of dental care professionals in the United States and the importance of funding flexibility in the coming years. We will keep you informed.