Senators Introduce Bill To Help Increase Number of U.S. Public Health Workers
Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to increase the number of public health workers to improve U.S. preparedness for bioterrorist attacks and other emergencies, the Omaha World-Herald reports. The legislation would provide $35 million annually for new scholarships to students who enter the public health sector and $195 million annually for loan repayment assistance for those who commit to work in public health for a specific number of years. The senators introduced the bill as many public health workers nationwide are near retirement. According to a recent national study, the average age of epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, environmental health workers, microbiologists, public health administrators and others in the public health workforce is 47.7 years older than the average age of those in the remainder of the workforce. Hagel said in a statement, "The ability of the public health system to respond to infectious diseases like West Nile virus, food-borne illnesses or bioterrorism relies on a well-trained, adequately staffed public health network at all levels." He added, "It is important that we address this problem before it becomes a crisis" (Thompson, Omaha World-Herald, 7/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.