Medical or nursing students use laptop while attending class for healthcare education
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An alliance of national organizations focused on workforce challenges in senior living and other long-term care settings is asking Congress to almost double funding for two federal programs dedicated to training the geriatrics workforce.

The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is urging Congress to support an $82 million funding request in the fiscal year 2024 appropriations budget for geriatrics programs administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources Services Administration. Last year, the Labor-Health and Human Services appropriations bill added $2 million in funding for a total of $47 million for FY23.

Among EWA members are LeadingAge, the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living, AMDA–The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, PHI, the Alzheimer’s Association and the AARP.

Specifically, the funding would support the only two federal programs dedicated to training the entire workforce in the care of older adults: the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program and the Geriatrics Academic Career Award program.

GWEP is the only federal program designed to improve health outcomes for older adults by developing a healthcare workforce that maximizes resident, patient and family engagement by integrating geriatrics and primary care.

GACA is the only federal program that supports the career development of junior faculty clinician educators in the specialty of geriatrics. The program supports developing leaders for healthcare transformation across settings, including rural, medically underserved, age-friendly settings that provide interprofessional training.

“We support efforts to grow the geriatric workforce so that seniors can receive high-quality care by specialized healthcare professionals,” an AHCA / NCAL spokeswoman told McKnight’s Senior Living. “At the same time, it is imperative that Congress focus on programs specifically targeted to rebuild the long-term care workforce. Our industry has lost more workers than any other healthcare sector — we need Washington to invest in a concerted effort to recruit and retain more long-term caregivers.”

According to the alliance, the supply of geriatricians is projected to decrease between 2018 and 2030, but demand will increase by 50%. The specialty traditionally has been one of the least popular specialties among medical school graduates

Additional funding would allow for 80 GWEP sites, enabling every state to have a GWEP and helping to ensure access to geriatrics training and expertise in rural and underserved areas. Additional dollars also would fund 60 GACA sites, creating a larger and more geographically diverse pipeline of geriatrics research and training expertise.