Healthcare workforce challenges a national emergency, hospitals say

The American Hospital Association is urging Congress to address workforce challenges facing healthcare facilities, calling the issue a national emergency.

In a letter submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee March 1, the group said the workforce challenges "are a national emergency that demand immediate attention from all levels of government and workable solutions." 

The letter discussed the toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on healthcare workers, workforce shortages and how hospitals and health systems are supporting their employees.

The association urged lawmakers to implement recruitment policies to revitalize and diversify the healthcare workforce.

A number of policy solutions were recommended, including lifting the cap on Medicare-funded physician residencies; increasing support for nursing schools and faculty; and providing scholarships and loan forgiveness. 

The association also called for fast-tracking visas for international healthcare workers; investigating reports of anticompetitive behavior from travel nurse staffing agencies; and providing more funding and flexibility to address mental health needs of healthcare workers. 

The letter was sent ahead of an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing March 2. In February, the group also urged lawmakers in the Senate to establish policies to combat workforce challenges.

Read the latest letter here

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