Affordable Care Act to Bolster Primary Care Workforce in Medically Underserved Communities

  • Date: November 29, 2010
  • Source: Admin
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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), a federal statute signed into law in the United States by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 along with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, is an outcome of the health care reform agenda of the Obama administration. The law contains several health-related provisions to take effect over a four-year period. It includes prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage or refusing claims based on pre-existing conditions, expanding Medicaid eligibility, subsidizing insurance premiums, incentivizing businesses to provide health care benefits, establishing health insurance exchanges, and supporting medical research.
What the Act Will Offer:
Now a sum of USD 290 million has been allocated under the Affordable Care Act to address shortages in the primary health care workforce which translates into greater access to healthcare for those who might otherwise have to go without it. Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary, recently announced the launch of a new application cycle for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) Loan Repayment Program. Under the program NHSC offers primary care medical, dental and mental health clinicians up to USD 60,000 to repay student loans in exchange for two years of service at health care facilities in medically underserved areas. The PPACA has rendered the loan repayment program more flexible.  NHSC will give members the option of working half-time to fulfill their service obligation and provide credit for some teaching hours. Providers may apply to the NHSC loan repayment program online. Monetary awards will be higher compared to previous years.
Through this program, the NHSC seeks to tackle two major challenges, viz., shortage of the primary care workforce and the increasing debt burden on new providers. The most geographically isolated and economically distressed areas of the country now have NHSC site offices. Health care professionals who enroll in this program will join the thousands of dedicated primary care clinicians who bring quality health care to underserved communities and vulnerable populations.
According to the Director of NHSC, Rebecca Spitzgo, by the end of February 2011, some 10,800 plus clinicians will be caring for 11 million plus people, more than tripling the National Health Service Corps since 2008. By 2015, the Corps will support 16,000 plus new primary care professionals courtesy ARRA and the Affordable Care Act.
Challenges to Obama’s Healthcare Reform ACA
On November 8, the US Supreme Court decided to pass on hearing the healthcare reform law since lower courts are hearing challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The case involved a California judge ruling that the constitutional validity of the Affordable Care Act cannot be challenged since it is not yet ripe for it. The PPACA requirement that everybody have health insurance had not yet harmed any individual or business. A hearing in Florida is due in an ACA lawsuit filed by 20 states on December 16. A Supreme Court ruling cannot be expected until then. Obama’s healthcare overhaul has been heavily contested, ever since it came into force in March 2010.


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