Health care organizations urge Congress to act on workforce issues

Letter: 'Inadequate numbers and maldistribution of health care professionals mean a lack of access to health care'

The ADA, in partnership with 19 other health care associations, urged Congress to take action to solve health workforce issues in a June 29 letter sent to all members of Congress.

The letter said that “inadequate numbers and maldistribution of health care professionals mean a lack of access to health care for many Americans, and legislative solutions are needed to broaden the health workforce pipeline and to get health workers where they are most needed.”

The letter did not advocate for specific legislation, but noted several general policy areas that Congress should support. “All health care providers face financial challenges when practicing in underserved communities that could be alleviated by changes to tax policy,” the letter said. “Student loan relief may encourage more young people interested in health professions to join the workforce, while also smoothing the path into underserved communities. Funding workforce grant programs and public service programs can also alleviate geographical and population access to care disparities.”

The groups emphasized that “the COVID-19 public health emergency created massive shifts in the health workforce and exacerbated already existing workforce problems. Financial instability compounded the stress of paying off student loans for many providers, and burnout led others to leave the health care field altogether. These shifts have made geographical and population disparities more acute. At the same time, it has become more difficult for physicians, dentists, hospitals, and other health care facilities to find allied health professional staff. Despite intensive candidate searches and offers of new employment inducements, staff vacancies remain that limit the number of patients who can receive care. Ultimately, if these health workforce challenges are not met, it means limited access to health care for Americans.”

The letter was sent by the ADA, American Academy of Ophthalmology, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, American Academy of Periodontology, American Association of Endodontists, American Association for Dental, Oral, and Craniofacial Research, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Association of Orthodontists, American College of Prosthodontics, American College of Rheumatology, American Osteopathic Association, American Society for Radiation Oncology, American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, American Student Dental Association, American Urological Association, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Society for Cardiovascular Angiography & Interventions and The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.

Follow all of the ADA’s advocacy efforts at ADA.org/advocacy.

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