Obama administration awards $130 million for healthcare workforce

The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday awarded $130.8 million to strengthen the nation's healthcare workforce. The funds target six key areas: primary care workforce training, oral health workforce training, equipment to enhance training across the health professions, loan repayments for health professionals, health career opportunity programs for disadvantaged students, and patient navigator outreach and chronic disease prevention in health disparity populations.  

"An adequate health care workforce is the linchpin for reforming our health care system to ensure greater access, improve the quality of health care and cut overall costs in the long term," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. "Today's awards not only will provide more training opportunities for people interested in a health professions career, but also will support equipment purchases and faculty development to expand and enhance the quality of training."

Here's the breakdown: 

• Training Programs in Primary Care: $42.1 million to support family medicine, general internal medicine and general pediatrics programs;

• Oral Health: $23.9 million for workforce development programs for pre- and post-doctoral training for dental residents; dental faculty; loan repayment for faculty who teach primary care dentistry; and training for practicing dentists, or other approved dental trainees in general, pediatric, and public health dentistry and dental hygiene programs.

• Equipment to Enhance Training for Health Professionals: $50.5 million to assist with purchasing equipment for training current and future health professionals;

• Loan Repayment: $8.3 million to states that provide matching funds to assist health professionals in repaying their educational loans. In return, these individuals agree to provide full-time primary health services in federal health professional shortage areas for a minimum of two years.

• Health Careers Opportunity Program: $2.1 million to increase diversity in the health professions by developing an educational pipeline to enhance the academic performance of economically and educationally disadvantaged students, and prepare them for careers in the health professions;

• Patient Navigator: $3.8 million to develop and operate patient navigator services that improve health care outcomes for individuals with cancer or other chronic diseases, with specific emphasis on health disparity populations.

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