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Rep. Molinaro Introduces Bipartisan Bill To Address Healthcare Provider Shortage at Community Health Centers In Upstate NY

Washington, DC – U.S. Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY-19) today introduced the Health Care Workforce Innovation Act of 2024 to address the healthcare provider shortage at Community Health Care Centers (CHCs) in Upstate New York. He introduced this bipartisan bill alongside U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02).

CHCs, like Cornerstone Family Healthcare in Binghamton, are community-based and patient-directed organizations that provide comprehensive healthcare to medically underserved and rural populations. In Upstate New York, CHCs are experiencing a healthcare staffing shortage, leaving families without reliable access to care.

Rep. Molinaro's bill addresses the workforce shortage by creating a grant program within the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish or expand partnerships between CHCs and high schools, vocational-technical schools, community colleges, Area Health Education Centers, or Health Care Career Laddering Programs. With the partnerships, CHCs will be able to implement training to practice models that will produce qualified medical, behavioral, and oral health professionals that can practice in medically underserved and rural communities.

Rep. Molinaro said, “I am proud to partner with Congresswoman Craig to address the healthcare provider shortage. It’s not good enough to just have a Community Health Center. In many medically underserved and rural communities, we need enough qualified providers to meet the needs of Upstate New York families. This grant program will get more students trained to provide care to the Upstate New York community.”

Rep. Craig said, “We need to act to ensure that all Americans have access to the high-quality health care they deserve. Right now, that means investing in the community partnerships we know will prevent workforce shortages and incentivizing young folks to pursue meaningful careers as health care workers. I’m proud to be working with my colleague Rep. Molinaro on this important bipartisan effort.”

David Jolly, President and CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare said, "Cornerstone Family Healthcare thanks Rep. Molinaro for his continued support of the work we do at community health centers. The Health Care Workforce Innovation Act highlights health centers' role in workforce innovation and provides the tools and funding to continue to develop a strong workforce that reflects the community we serve. This bill will ensure that health centers, both in the Hudson Valley and nationwide, will have the workforce needed to provide high-quality, comprehensive healthcare to the populations who need it the most."

National Association of Community Health Centers President and CEO, Kyu Rhee, said, “Community Health Centers are proud to be the employers of choice for more than 300,000 dedicated employees who serve more than 31.5 million Americans at more than 15,000 locations across the country. As a physician, I know how important allied health professionals such as medical assistants, dental assistants, pharmacy technicians, and many others are to patient care and to the operations of health centers. That's why more than 80 percent of health centers are establishing innovative partnerships with local schools, community colleges, and Area Health Education Centers to support training in community-settings and provide career laddering opportunities for staff. I commend Representative Molinaro for his leadership in introducing this important legislation, which for the first time will provide federal funding to scale up these successful community-led workforce development partnerships.”

Tim Clement from Mental Health America said, "Mental Health America supports the Health Care Workforce Innovation Act because it will enhance the allied health professional workforce, including peer support specialists who play a critical role in the recovery process for those with mental health conditions and substance use disorders. Clinical and non-clinical allied health professionals play a critical role in the overall delivery of health care in America."

Rose Duhan, President and CEO for Community Health Care Association of NYS said, “Community Health Centers have always relied on innovation and creativity to ensure they have the people they need to provide high quality care to the populations who need it most. The Health Care Workforce Innovation Act recognizes that health centers are the leader in workforce innovation – and provides the funding they need to develop workforce from within the very communities they serve. We are incredibly grateful for Congressman Molinaro’s leadership and commitment to health centers and the tremendous work they do.”

Jeffrey B. Caballero, MPH, Executive Director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) said, "The Health Care Workforce Innovation Act is important legislation to help community health centers address the significant workforce challenges they face. CHCs provide care to 31.5 million people in the U.S., including nearly 1.5 million Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. This bill makes historic investments to build out CHCs’ integrated care teams and establish a pipeline to recruit new staff and upskill current employees who are culturally and linguistically aligned with a health center’s needs. AAPCHO applauds Rep. Molinaro for his leadership in introducing this bill. We urge Congress to pass it without delay."

Dr. An Nguyen at the National Network for Oral Health Access said, "For decades, health centers have been incubators and hosts for innovative workforce solutions, and NNOHA believes that strategies that strengthen their ability to deliver community-based training programs, though partnerships and funding, are essential to the future of health care and the health of the communities served by health centers. The dental industry is facing a critical shortage of dental assistants and dental hygienists that impacts health centers' ability to meet the needs of those they serve. Authorizing HRSA to provide health centers with resources to establish and expand vocational programs to train people in the community (often where they already live) to fill these high-demand positions will ease a critical gap in the healthcare workforce, increase the ability of health centers to care for more patients in need, increase employment in good paying jobs for those who may not be able to afford higher education, and incentivize young people to enter and remain in the field where they are so urgently needed. NNOHA applauds this innovative approach to encourage partnerships to alleviate workforce shortages in America's highest needs communities."

Dr. Gary Cloud of A.T. Still University said, "A.T. Still University stands firmly behind Congressman Molinaro’s Healthcare Workforce Development bill, H.R. 7307, recognizing its vital role in shaping the future of healthcare education and ensuring a robust and skilled workforce to meet the evolving needs of our communities.”

This bill is also endorsed by The National Association of Community Health Centers, National Rural Health Association, National Network for Oral Health Access, Mental Health America, A.T. Still University, and Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations.