Monday, December 14, 2009

Health Reform Needs Enforceable National Workforce Strategy

/PRNewswire/ -- Congressional leaders must ensure that health reform includes a health workforce planning body with sufficient authority to ensure implementation of an integrated, coordinated national health workforce policy, according to Dr. Steven A Wartman, president and CEO of the Association of Academic Health Centers (AAHC). "With each step in the legislative process, the Congress has progressed toward a more effective health workforce planning process," Wartman said. "Still missing from both House and Senate bills is a mechanism -- such as national health workforce commission recommendations that automatically go into effect unless overridden by Congress -- to ensure timely implementation of the recommendations," added Wartman, urging Congress to address this concern before finalizing the legislation.

An updated analysis of the current House and Senate bills released today by the AAHC identifies additional strengths and weaknesses in the bills when measured against the AAHC's own health workforce recommendations:

-- The AAHC recommends that development and implementation of an
integrated, coordinated, strategic national health workforce policy be
the primary objective of any advisory committee or national
commission. The House bill contains a clear statement that the
purpose of its advisory committee is "to develop and implement an
integrated, coordinated, and strategic national health workforce
policy reflective of current and evolving health workforce needs,"
while the Senate bill only lists national health workforce policy as
one of several priorities.
-- The AAHC recommends the list of enumerated issues to be addressed by
the advisory committee or national commission include the
harmonization of conflicting national and state-based regulatory and
private self-regulatory standards (e.g., licensure, scope of practice,
accreditation). The Senate bill expressly directs its national
commission to "identify barriers to improved coordination at the
Federal, State, and local levels," but the House bill does not
expressly address the need for harmonization.
-- The AAHC recommends the creation of a permanent, independent advisory
committee or national commission that serves as a continuously
available policy research and consultative resource. The Senate bill
creates an independent national commission composed of members
appointed by the Comptroller General, while the House bill only
creates an advisory committee appointed by and reporting through the

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