Health Workforce Not Ready to Handle the Affordable Care Act

Apr 16, 2013, 14:07 ET from Association of Academic Health Centers

Group warns we are increasingly out of time to address what is out of order with the nation's health workforce

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A group representing the nation's academic health centers has issued a report today warning that the country's health workforce has fallen to the back burner of priorities at the exact time there will be an influx of patients entering the health care system. It is estimated that an additional 14 million people will be entering the nation's health system with coverage provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014.  

"We are at a critical juncture," said Dr. Steven Wartman, President and CEO of the Association of Academic Health Centers. "As the 2014 deadline for most Americans to have health insurance approaches, the health care workforce is not ready, and we are quickly running out of time."

At a briefing on Capitol Hill on Monday, April 15, leaders from academic health centers called on Congress to quickly appropriate funds to the National Health Care Workforce Commission (NHCWC) so they can take up their charge to substantively address and recommend solutions to the nation's health workforce needs. The commission was formed in 2010 but because funds were never appropriated by Congress; the Commission has never met.  

The speakers also addressed complications to fixing the workforce: misaligned incentives, changing demographics, long-standing barriers to interprofessional collaboration, and rapidly evolving technology.

"Unfortunately the issue is more complicated than just ensuring the right number of health professionals in the right places," notes Wartman. "The ACA provides that people will have coverage, but that is just the beginning of the work. Now, we have to figure out how our health care system can best treat them. The first step is Congress funding the NHCWC."

The Capitol Hill briefing was based on AAHC's "A Call to Action" report which is an update to its previous published Out of Order, Out of Time: The State of the Nation's Health Workforce.  The report calls for adequate and immediate funding for the NHCWC and empowering the commission to work expeditiously and with a sense of urgency to address the health workforce needs.

In addition, the report urges policymakers to consider issues of diversity, geographic allocation of health professionals, the financing of Graduate Medical Education, and to consider technologies and innovations that affect the delivery of health care.

Based in Washington, DC, the AAHC is a non-profit association dedicated to advancing the nation's health and well-being through the vigorous leadership of academic health centers.

SOURCE Association of Academic Health Centers