PAEA recently sponsored a briefing to educate congressional staff on the value of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) in promoting access to care in rural and underserved areas in exchange for loan forgiveness or scholarship support. Sponsor partners for the briefing included the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, the National Association of Community Health Centers, the Council of Academic Family Medicine, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.
During the briefing, Davin Cole, DHSc, PA-C, director of non-physician provider development at the Urban Health Plan in New York and a preceptor of PA students, provided a PA perspective to attendees. Dr. Cole discussed the influence of his experience with the NHSC on his ultimate decision to continue practicing in an underserved community. He also stressed the critical importance of clinical training experiences in future PA practice choices.
This briefing comes at a critical time for the NHSC. PAs currently comprise approximately 10 percent of the NHSC’s workforce, and, according to PAEA’s most recent Student Report, nearly 30 percent of graduating students who intend to participate in a loan forgiveness program also plan to become a member of the NHSC.
Following the enactment of a two-year extension of mandatory funding in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, this funding stream is set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year without congressional action. Fortunately, both the House and Senate have advanced legislation extending the authorization of the NHSC for four to five years. Under each proposal, mandatory funding would be set at $310 million annually. PAEA has joined with our colleagues to support a four-year extension with funding for a fifth year instead to be used to increase funding over each of the four years.
The Government Relations Team would like to thank Dr. Cole for his advocacy on behalf of PA students and graduates. For questions about PAEA’s advocacy efforts related to the NHSC, please contact advocacy@PAEAonline.org.