McMorris Rodgers health care bills pass through House Energy and Commerce Committee

On July 17, three of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ health care bills passed out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The bills aim to expand teaching health centers, increase funding for respite services, and enhance college programs for underrepresented communities. All three bills look to improve the health of individuals in rural and underrepresented populations.

“From bringing more doctors to Eastern Washington to ensuring respite care is accessible for those who need it to promoting diversity in allied health fields, these three bills will make improvements in our health care system that will benefit people here in our community,” said McMorris Rodgers in a prepared statement.

The first bill is the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2019 that funds the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program. This program expands the medical community and aims to deliver quality, fast care to rural and underserved communities.

 

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According to McMorris Rodgers’ website, there could be a shortage of 23,000 physicians by 2025. In 2017, the Training the Next Generation of Primary Care Doctors Act of 2017 expanded the THCGME program for two years to help these communities. Now, with the Act of 2019, these programs will receive more funding and will continue for four more years, the longest extension of the THCGME program so far.

The second piece of legislation is the Lifespan Respite Care Reauthorization Act of 2019, which was introduced in April 2019 by McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Jim Langevin. Over the next five years, the bill would permit $200 million in funding for coordinated respite services for families with individuals with chronic conditions.

“Respite care is an essential part of a comprehensive health care approach, and this legislation will support respite care agencies by providing funding for state grants to improve and expand these services in our communities, improve coordination, and streamline access to programs,” said McMorris Rodgers in a prepared statement.

The third bill is the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act, which was introduced by McMorris Rodgers and Rep. Bobby Rush. This act provides funds for colleges and universities to increase certain programs for their underrepresented communities. These programs include physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology, and speech-language pathology. The hope is to build a more diverse workforce.

According to McMorris Rodgers’ website, a report from the Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) found that over 77% of individuals in the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology fields are caucasian.

“First, this bill provides pathways to meaningful, high-paying jobs in the health sector, and second, it helps to help expand health professional coverage to communities that need it. By working together, we can make real change for Americans across the country,” said Rep. Rush in a prepared statement.