Vice President Kamala Harris has announced that a portion of the COVID-19 aid package and other funds will be allocated to address the rampant healthcare worker shortages in underserved communities. The $1.5 billion investment is earmarked to bolster not just equitable care opportunities, but the overall U.S. healthcare workforce in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.
The awarded funds will fill the coffers of a number of programs which aim to level out health disparities and talent shortages through scholarships and loan reparations for healthcare students and professionals. These benefits are given in exchange for a pledge of service in struggling, vulnerable communities. In addition to the National Health Service Corps, Nurse Corps, and Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery programs, this funding will reinforce the efforts of more than 22,700 providers via the American Rescue Plan.
This move comes as a direct response to guidance provided by the Presidential COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force in its final report in November. VP Harris marked her last year in the Senate with the prescient introduction of a bill that became the basis for President Biden's Task Force. The current funding adds to the billions in investments that the Administration has dolled out to equity-centered programs over the last year, such as the $785 million from earlier in November meant to sustain equity considerations in the nation's COVID-19 response and improve diversity in the healthcare workforce.