SustiNet: Sebelius Announces New $250 Million Investment to Strengthen Primary Health Care Workforce
Federal Reform

Sebelius Announces New $250 Million Investment to Strengthen Primary Health Care Workforce

June 16, 2010

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced a series of new investments worth $250 million to increase the number of health care providers and strengthen the primary care workforce.  The new investments were made possible by the Affordable Care Act.  Sebelius was joined for the announcement by U.S. Representative Lois Capps, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Administrator Dr. Mary Wakefield, and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Howard K. Koh.

Communities across the country have long suffered from a shortage of primary care providers. Without action, experts project a continued primary care shortfall due to the needs of an aging population and a decline in the number of medical students choosing primary care.  The Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that the nation would have a shortage of approximately 21,000 primary care clinicians in 2015.  Building on the earlier investments made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Care Act, particularly for the National Health Service Corps, the investments announced today will support the training and development of more than 16,000 new primary care providers over the next five years.

"These new investments will strengthen our primary care workforce to ensure that more Americans can get the quality care they need to stay healthy," said Secretary Sebelius. "Primary care providers are on the front line in helping Americans stay healthy by preventing disease, treating illness, and helping to manage chronic conditions.  These investments build on the Administration's strong commitment to training the primary care doctors and nurses of tomorrow and improving both health care quality and access for Americans throughout the country."

"The Affordable Care Act's goal of increasing access to quality, affordable care can only be accomplished if we train the next generation of health professionals to provide it," said Representative Capps. "This critical investment will help alleviate the current shortage of primary health care providers including physicians, physician assistants and nurses. Increasing the number of primary care professionals will allow us to place an increased emphasis on preventive care and wellness - something I've devoted my life to as a public health nurse -- making this country healthier in the long run. I applaud the President, Secretary Sebelius, Assistant Secretary Koh and Administrator Wakefield for swiftly working to roll out this important provision of health care reform."

The investments announced today in the primary care workforce are the first allocation from the new $500 million Prevention and Public Health fund for fiscal year 2010, created by the Affordable Care Act. Half of this fund - $250 million - will be used to boost the supply of primary care providers in this country by providing new resources for:

  • Creating additional primary care residency slots:  $168 million for training more than 500 new primary care physicians by 2015;

  • Supporting physician assistant training in primary care: $32 million for supporting the development of more than 600 new physician assistants, who practice medicine as members of a team with their supervising physician, and can be trained in a shorter period of time compared to physicians;

  • Encouraging students to pursue full-time nursing careers: $30 million for encouraging over 600 nursing students to attend school full-time so that they have better odds of completing their education;

  • Establishing new nurse practitioner-led clinics: $15 million for the operation of 10 nurse-managed health clinics which assist in the training of nurse practitioners. These clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners, which provide comprehensive primary health care services to populations living in medically underserved communities.

  • Encouraging states to plan for and address health professional workforce needs:  $5 million for states to plan and implement innovative strategies to expand their primary care workforce by 10 to 25 percent over ten years to meet increased demand for primary care services.

"With these health care workforce investments, we have a unique opportunity to further strengthen our primary care workforce for the future," said Dr. Wakefield.  "Today's announcement is a strong indication of our commitment and one of many steps in the right direction."  

A fact sheet can be found at:

Content Last Modified on 6/16/2010 3:00:10 PM