Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis Opening Statement for Subtitle E Relating to Pathways to Health Careers at Markup of the Build Back Better Act

Sep 10, 2021
Press Release

(As prepared for delivery)

In studying the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the health care workforce, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services found that allied health care professions were disproportionately impacted during the pandemic and that the health field is currently suffering a shortage of such workers. Given that the Health Profession Opportunity Grant – or HPOG - Program trains workers for careers in the allied health care professions, we urgently need to reauthorize and expand this program before it expires on September 30, 2021 so that HPOGs can be part of the solution to build back better our health care workforce.

We know that allied health care employees - such as Certified Nursing Assistants, Physicians Assistants, Phlebotomists, X-Ray Technicians, and Medical Billing Specialists - are overwhelmingly women, mothers, and people of color.  Thus, investing in allied health care professionals is both an economic recovery issue and a race-and-gender-equity issue. 

Given the critical role of health care in this pandemic crisis and given that health care is one of the fastest growing industries in the nation, now is the time to invest in workers with barriers to employment to enter health careers that are in high-demand within their local areas, simultaneously connecting people to the labor force and helping states across the country to address shortages of health professionals in their communities.

The HPOG model combines high-caliber job training with critical workforce supports targeted to low-income parents seeking good-paying health careers.  It uses a career ladder approach to get people into health jobs quickly, provide the services they need to succeed, and continue to train these workers so that they can obtain higher-paying jobs. All of this is key to helping workers lift their families out of poverty.

For more than 11 years, we have studied the success of the Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program, and the results of the demonstration are impressive. Participants - predominately women, single parents, workers from racial and ethnic minority communities, and individuals who did not finish high school - overwhelmingly completed their training, were employed, and were simultaneously enrolled in higher-level training to stack their credentials.  We know this program works, and we ought to continue investing in it.

I hope all my colleagues will join me in supporting this important legislation that will address local health care workforce shortages across the country.  Let’s seize this opportunity to invest in vulnerable workers with evidence-based training and supports to grow our workforce, strengthen our economy, and improve the health of our communities.

Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to submit for the record dozens of letters of support from HPOG community partners and participants.  I yield back.