Friday, April 3, 2009

Senator Collins introduces "Caring for an Aging America Act"

U.S. Senator Susan Collins recently introduced the Caring for an Aging America Act, legislation to ensure the healthcare workforce is prepared to meet the needs of our growing population of older Americans. The legislation was cosponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

“Studies show that more than one quarter of Maine’s population will be over the age of 65 by the year 2030,” said Senator Collins. “Our health care system is already struggling to find and retain qualified workers to meet this growing demand. The Caring for an Aging America Act will help recruit, train, and keep health care workers who are dedicated to providing quality health care for this aging population.”

The Caring for an Aging America Act would provide $130 million in federal funding over five years to attract and retain health care professionals and direct-care workers by providing them with loan forgiveness and career advancement opportunities.

Specifically, this legislation would:
• Establish the Geriatric and Gerontology Loan Repayment Program for physicians, physician assistants, advance practice nurses, psychologists, and social workers who complete specialty training in geriatrics or gerontology and agree to provide two years of full-time clinical practice and service to older adults.
• Expand the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program to include registered nurses who complete specialty training and provide nursing services to older adults in long-term care settings.
• Increase career advancement opportunities for nursing and direct care workers by offering specialty training in long-term care services through the existing Career Ladders Grants Program.
• Create a panel to advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor and Congress on workforce issues related to health and long-term care for the aging population.

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