Reps. Butterfield, Stewart, Luján Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Funding for the National Health Service Corps
WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (D-NC), Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT), and Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced H.R. 3862, the National Health Service Corps Strengthening Act of 2017. The bipartisan legislation seeks to reauthorize the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) for five years and increase funding levels for this critical program. Unless reauthorized, the program is set to expire on September 30, 2017.
“With seventy-five percent of the fourteen counties I represent in rural eastern North Carolina designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas, a strengthened National Health Service Corps is critical for the residents in my district,” said Congressman Butterfield. “One of the counties I represent has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation and its community health center will only be able to hire a new OB/GYN if the NHSC is reauthorized. There are countless stories like that across the country in areas of underserved medical need. We must do all we can to eliminate those health disparities and to reauthorize this important program.”
The NHSC is a national program that provides loan repayment and scholarship awards to primary care, mental health, and dental health professionals in exchange for practicing in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA). Additionally, the NHSC matches funding for state-based loan repayment programs that assist health professionals in underserved areas. The NHSC has helped more than 50,000 health professionals meet the medical needs of underserved and vulnerable populations for over 40 years.
“The NHSC program brings access to many Utahns who are living in rural communities and have limited access to care,” said Congressman Stewart. “Communities in my district rely on this vital health care program, and I am dedicated to making sure this access continues.”
The National Health Service Corps Strengthening Act of 2017 will reauthorize the National Health Services Corps program for an additional five years and increase its funding by $10 million each year. The bill will extend health care services to five million more Americans and enable 5,000 more health professionals to participate in the program.
“The young doctors and healthcare professionals that make up National Health Service Corps play a key role in providing health care services in many rural and underserved communities in New Mexico,” said Congressman Luján. “It is critical that rural residents have access to this care, and our bill takes an important step forward by continuing the NHSC program for five more years and providing appropriate levels of funding.”
The NHSC is widely recognized- both in North Carolina and across the country- as a successful and crucial program. According to the National Health Service Corps Stakeholders and the Association of American Medical Colleges, the program:
- Improves access to health care for the growing numbers of rural and urban underserved Americans;
- Increases state investments in recruiting and retaining health professionals;
- Provides incentives for practitioners to enter primary care;
- Reduces the financial burden that the cost of health professions education places on new practitioners; and
- Helps ensure access to health professions education for students from all backgrounds.
Read the text of the legislation here.