The global COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced elected officials and political leaders to reevaluate the provision of health care in the United States. To address inequal access to care and representation among health professionals, on April 24, 2020, U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Democratic Whip and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Health Heroes 2020 Act, a bicameral piece of legislation.
The Health Heroes 2020 Act would:
- Add 300,000 clinicians in underserved communities
- Increase the annual mandatory National Health Service Corps (NHSC) funding level from $310 million to $1 billion
- Provide a one-time, supplemental appropriation of $25 billion for scholarship and loan forgiveness awards through NHSC and $5 billion to nurse corps programs
- Create a reserve corps with special employment provisions during times of national emergency
“The current public health crisis has highlighted our need for a national policy that increases the number of health workers to address shortages and medical disparities and respond to emergencies,” Durbin said.
“Our plan will build a nationwide pipeline that will make it possible for students of every background to become the doctors and nurses we need without incurring huge debt,” Schakowsky said.
If passed, the act could provide some solution to both the nursing shortage and the prevalence of healthcare disparities in racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic underserved communities.