HHS Awards $320 Million to Expand Primary Care Workforce

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Sept. 27 the availability of $320 million in grants under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to strengthen the health care workforce. Of those grants, $253 million will go to improve and expand the primary care workforce under the Prevention and Public Health Fund of the ACA. Another $67 million in Health Profession Opportunity Grants will provide low-income individuals with education, training, and supportive services intended to prepare them to enter and advance in careers in the health care sector.

Prevention and Public Health Fund Workforce Grants

The $253 million in Prevention and Public Health Fund grants are awarded under six health professions programs administered by HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The programs are designed to build the primary care workforce and provide community-based prevention. States will receive funding to support comprehensive workforce planning and implementation strategies that best address local current and projected workforce shortages.

Primary Care Residency Expansion (PCRE) – $167.3 million

The PCRE program funds 82 accredited primary care residency training programs to increase the number of residents trained in general pediatrics, general internal medicine, and family medicine. Grantees will use the five-year grant to provide stipend support for new enrollees in three-year primary care residency training programs. By 2015, the program will support the training of 889 new primary care residents over the number currently being trained and more than 500 of these residents will have completed their training.

Expansion of Physician Assistant Training (EPAT) – $30.1 million

The EPAT program will fund 28 primary care physician assistant (PA) training programs for five years. The program funds student stipends of $22,000 per student per year, for two years. It is projected that more than 700 PAs will receive funding with more than 600 fully trained by 2015.

Advanced Nursing Education Expansion (ANEE) – $31 million

The ANEE program will provide $31 million in funds to 26 schools of nursing to increase full-time enrollment in primary care nurse practitioner (NP) and nurse midwife (NMW) programs. It is projected that over 1,300 primary care nursing stipends will be supported through this five-year program. Grantees project that 600 NPs and NMWs in total will be fully trained by 2015.

Nurse Managed Health Clinics (NMHC) – $14.8 million

This program will fund 10 grantees for three years to operate NMHCs to provide primary care. A NMHC is a nurse-practice arrangement, managed by advanced practice nurses, that provides primary care or wellness services to underserved or vulnerable populations and that is associated with a school, college, university or department of nursing, federally qualified health center, or independent nonprofit health or social services agency. Funding will provide access to primary care for approximately 94,000 patients and training for more than 900 advanced practice nurses.

State Health Workforce Development – $5.6 million

Twenty-six states will receive funding to begin comprehensive health care workforce planning or implementation. Planning grants (limited to one year and $150,000 plus 15 percent matching funds) assess a state’s current health workforce and include activities such as gathering and analyzing data, examining current resources, policies and practices, and identifying ways to remove barriers at state and local levels. Implementation grants (limited to two years with 25 percent matching funds) allow states to convene stakeholders at the state and regional levels to develop and implement plans that address workforce needs. These activities are expected to result in a 10 to 25 percent increase in the primary care health workforce over a 10-year period.

Personal and Home Care Aide State Training (PHCAST) – $4.2 million

Direct care workers provide an estimated 70 to 80 percent of the paid hands-on long-term care and personal assistance to Americans who are elderly, or living with disabilities or other chronic conditions. The PHCAST program is a demonstration project that supports states in developing and evaluating a competency-based uniform curriculum to train qualified personal and home care aides. Personal and home care aides (PHCAs) are projected to be the fourth fastest growing direct care occupation in the United States between 2008 and 2018. The six state grantees participating in the three-year project anticipate that they will train over 5,100 PHCAs by 2013.

Prevention and Public Health Fund workforce grant award tables by state are available online.

Health Profession Opportunity Grants

The Health Profession Opportunity Grants, administered by the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Family Assistance, will provide 32 grants to entities in 23 states. These grants will provide low-income individuals with successful training programs for a variety of health care professions, including: home care aides, certified nursing assistants (CNAs), medical assistants (MAs), pharmacy technicians, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), licensed vocational nurses, registered nurses (RNs), dental assistants, and health information technicians (HITs). Grantees will also provide additional supportive services such as transportation, dependent care, and temporary housing. A broad range of entities will receive grants, including five Native American and tribal organizations as well as non-profit organization, state and local governments, and community colleges.

Health Profession Opportunity Grants award tables by state also are available online.

Source: HHS News Release

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