Rush Legislation to Diversify Allied Healthcare Providers Passes House with Overwhelming, Bipartisan Support
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 (H.R. 2781), which included U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush’s (D-Ill.) Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019. The legislation passed by voice vote.
The EMPOWER for Health Act is designed to increase access to health care in underserved areas, and Rush’s provision provides key federal funding to address the current lack of diversity in the fields of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, and audiology.
African-Americans make up less than five percent of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists. This increased funding, provided to colleges and universities, would be used to attract, recruit, and retain students who are racial or ethnic minorities or who are from disadvantaged backgrounds to these specialties.
“I am pleased that the underlying bill includes my legislation: the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act. The current lack of diversity in the Allied Health industry is shocking. Many patients of color, whether they are seeking physical therapy, occupational therapy, or similar forms of health care, are unable to be find a provider who is a person of color, and research has shown us that this lack of diversity leads to worse healthcare results for these patients,” said Rush.
“I want to thank U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky for her leadership on the Title VII reauthorization, as well as my colleagues on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for including the Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act in this important piece of legislation during the markup this summer. My amendment will only serve to strengthen the EMPOWER for Health Act by authorizing the necessary funding to diversify allied healthcare providers, ultimately leading to better outcomes for all patients.”
The EMPOWER for Health Act was introduced on May 16, 2019, and passed the House Committee on Energy and Commerce unanimously on July 17, 2019. The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act was originally introduced on July 09, 2019, and was ultimately including as an amendment to the EMPOWER for Health Act during that bill’s subcommittee markup on July 11, 2019.
The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act is modeled after the highly effective Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Program. U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) is a co-lead for Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act bill, which has 22 cosponsors.