The Biden administration on Thursday announced that it would be investing $100 million to boost the health care industry by funding state programs aimed at attracting and retaining workers in underserved communities.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) noted that the $100 million, which is being channeled from the American Rescue Plan, would go toward supporting the National Health Service Corps’s State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), which provides grants to states with programs to help boost clinicians working in areas that have a recognized health care shortage.
HHS said it would be serving a maximum of 50 grants of up to $1 million each per year over four years, noting it was a fivefold increase to previous funding for the SLRP.
HHS also explained in its announcement that state-run programs receiving the grant money would not have to indicate how much money they would be able to match. Grantees would also be allowed to use a maximum of 10 percent of the money awarded to them to be delegated for administrative costs.
State programs applying for the federal grants will have until April 8, 2022, to file applications, and the grants will be administered that September.
“Our health care workers have worked tirelessly to save lives throughout this pandemic and now it’s our turn to invest in them,” HHS Secretary Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests MORE said in a statement. “This investment is critical to ensuring state public health officials can continue supporting specific needs across their communities. The Biden-Harris Administration will continue to invest in building a strong health workforce as we build our country back healthier.”
The news comes as the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that for September, the health care industry lost roughly 17,500 jobs. Nursing and residential care facilities lost 38,000 jobs and hospitals also lost 8,000, though ambulatory health care services saw a boost of 28,000 jobs.
“Employment in health care is down by 524,000 since February 2020, with nursing and residential care facilities accounting for about four-fifths of the loss,” the bureau grimly reported.
“With these funds, states can design programs that optimize the selection of disciplines and service locations, and tailor the length of service commitments to address the areas of greatest need in their communities,” acting HRSA Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a statement. “This investment will make a tremendous impact on access to primary care and addressing health disparities at a critical time.”