A group of Senators reintroduced a bill last week that aims to address shortages of doctors, nurses and other long-term care professionals as part of an effort during Older Americans Month. The Caring for an Aging America Act, brought forward by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) along with Senators Herb Kohl (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Susan Collins (R-ME), would offer doctors, nurses, social workers and other health professionals with training in geriatrics and gerontology access to loan repayment in return for agreeing to work in underserved areas.
Senator Boxer said, “We need to prepare our health care workforce now for a fast-growing population of older Americans to make sure that our mothers, fathers and grandparents get the quality care they deserve. This legislation will provide incentives to encourage more doctors, nurses and other health care workers to dedicate their careers to serving the unique needs of our seniors.”
The bill aims to build upon the current work of the Health Resources and Services Administration by opening up the National Health Service Corps to primary health care professionals with training in geriatrics specialties. The Caring for an Aging America Act is backed by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, a group of 28 national organizations. With the increasing numbers of older Americans, the demand for skilled healthcare workers in both urban and rural settings is expected to increase dramatically.
Senator Kohl said, “Our country needs to rapidly adapt our workforce and our health care system to meet the needs of an aging America. This policy would expand one of our most prestigious primary care grant programs – the National Health Service Corps – to train more geriatricians and gerontologists and it is my hope that this bill will be approved swiftly.”