(HealthDay News) — Vice President Kamala Harris announced Monday that the Biden administration will spend $1.5 billion to tackle a health care worker shortage in underserved communities.
The money from the COVID-19 recovery program, called the American Rescue Plan, and other sources will go to three federal programs that provide scholarships and loan repayments for health care students and workers if they agree to work in high-risk communities, the Associated Press reported. “Our nation must invest in a health care workforce that looks like America, and provide access to equitable health care for all Americans,” Harris said.
The pandemic has exacerbated health care disparities for minorities and underserved communities. According to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, during the course of the pandemic, minority Americans have seen higher numbers of cases and higher rates of death than their White counterparts, the AP said.
Still, “COVID-19 did not invent health disparities. Just ask any health care professional and she will tell you: Health disparities existed long before this virus reached our shores. Health disparities stem from broader systemic inequities,” Harris said.
The funding announcement is in response to recommendations suggested earlier this month by the White House COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, the AP reported. The money will support more than 22,700 health care workers, which will be the most ever enrolled in these programs, according to the White House.