Public Health Workers Make Case for Student Loan Repayment Program

Public Health Workers Make Case for Student Loan Repayment Program

Workforce turnover within the Granville Vance Public Health Department in North Carolina sometimes ranges between 2% and 5% in a standard 12 months. But the coronavirus pandemic has made the final two years have been something however regular—the annual turnover price stands at 12%, stated Lisa Macon Harrison, the division’s director.

Testifying earlier than a congressional committee Tuesday, Macon Harrison, who can also be the president of the National Association of County and City Health Officials, endorsed laws that might set up a student loan reimbursement program for public well being professionals. The aim of this system is to make it simpler to recruit employees for what can typically be tense, low-paying jobs.

“The challenges we face are low salaries and salary bands that are not updated frequently at the state level,” Macon Harrison stated in the course of the listening to earlier than the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “These loan repayment opportunities will help us with recruitment because they are better targeted to local public health in particular.”

The Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Act, which has bipartisan backing from committee members, would repay as much as $35,000 in student loans a 12 months for qualifying public well being professionals. To be eligible, people must be of their remaining 12 months of faculty pursuing a public well being or well being diploma or have graduated inside the previous 10 years. Those people should go on to work for a neighborhood, state or tribal public well being company and signal a service dedication for a minimum of three years in public well being.

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Programs like this are vital to assist recruit new employees for public well being businesses the place many workers, burned out by the stress of the final two years, are anticipated to resign because the pandemic subsides, Macon Harrison stated.  

“As many of my colleagues have stated, they are committed to staying the course during the crisis but will leave as soon as the threat is abated,” Macon Harrison stated.

Their causes for leaving fluctuate, she stated.

“For some it is the intense polarization and threats that drive them away,” she stated. “Others are lured away by better paying opportunities and hospitals in the private sector while still others are leaving due to mental health.”

Six-Years of Funding

The House invoice would offer $100 million in funding for loan reimbursement in fiscal 2021 and $75 million yearly for 5 years after that. NACCHO estimates that $200 million in loan reimbursement funding would assist roughly 6,000 public well being jobs—a mean of two employees per every native, state and tribal well being division.

Members of Congress lamented employee shortages that public well being businesses and hospitals of their districts are going through.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Republican, stated one of many hospital techniques in his Florida district has greater than 1,000 openings for registered nurses. Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat, stated she expects this system might be extraordinarily in style.

‘I feel if that fund had been in place now, there could be a run on the cash as a result of wants are so nice,” she stated.

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Municipal workforce recruitment has grow to be notably tough in the course of the pandemic as all method of presidency businesses throughout have confronted staffing shortages, together with public security, waste administration, and faculties.

To tackle the problem, the Biden administration took steps this 12 months to assist recruitment efforts in public service.

The U.S. Department of Education introduced plans this month to overtake a student loan forgiveness program for public sector employees. That program was plagued with issues that made it tough for qualifying employees to get loan forgiveness functions authorized. More than 98% of people that utilized for loan forgiveness beneath this system had been rejected, in keeping with federal information, together with hundreds of academics.