Congress this week called for passage of a 50 million per year budget bill that will increase the number of geriatric health professionals. The bill would help add more services and programs to support the increasing aging population in the United States.
If passed, the Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act (S. 2888), sponsored by Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA), would reauthorize the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. This would provide $45 million per year over the next five years. It also would reinstate the Geriatric Academic Career Awards program at $6 million per year.
Congress: Seniors Need More Help
Collins and Casey are chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and both are members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which held a hearing about the healthcare workforce shortage this past Tuesday.
The United States needs 20,000 geriatricians to meet the needs of older adults, Collins said, yet fewer than 7,300 physicians are board-certified in the specialty. As the need grows, other healthcare professionals and direct-care workers also also are needed, she and Casey said.
The legislation which was originally established in 1998, increased the number of faculty members working in geriatric education. After a restructuring of the geriatric workforce program, this legislation has been unfunded since 2015.
Congress now seeks to refund with a larger budget that will meet the needs of the growing aging population.
Additional highly trained staff to care for seniors in assisted living communities and all long-term care settings is necessary. The Geriatrics Workforce Improvement Act is a step in the right direction to help combat this current workforce shortage.