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Obama Economic Stimulus Program Includes Minority Health Provisions
by Pam Chwedyk Minority Nurse Writer
During all the recent discussion and debate over President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, we’re heard plenty of talk about things like “shovel-ready projects,” “rebuilding crumbling infrastructure” and “green energy jobs.” But what about nurse-ready projects? Does the massive stimulus program, which the President signed into law on February 17, contain any federal spending measures aimed at improving the nation’s health care, especially for poor, uninsured and medically underserved populations?
The answer is a big “yes.” Although you may not hear much discussion about them on the nightly news, the newly signed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes such provisions as:
• $500 million for nursing and health professions training, including $300 million for the National Health Service Corps, which provides scholarships and education loans for nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, primary care physicians and other health professionals. The remaining $200 million will be divided between HRSA Nursing Workforce Development programs—such as the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program and the Faculty Loan Repayment Program/Minority Faculty Fellowship Program—and health professions training programs.
• $1 billion to fund evidence-based disease prevention and wellness programs, including $300 million for immunizations and $650 million for community-based prevention programs.
• $87 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds for states.
• A temporary increase in Medicaid payments to hospitals that treat large numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients.
• Elimination of out-of-pocket costs for American Indians and Alaska Natives enrolled in Medicaid.
• $1.3 billion to extend a program that provides Medicaid coverage for persons who transition from welfare to work.
• $10 billion in additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $8.5 billion allocated for research.