Washington, DC—Congress passed landmark legislation today that would inject $2 trillion into the country’s hardest hit businesses, workforce, and the health care industry affected by COVID-19. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) H.R. 748, also included the reauthorization of the federal geriatrics workforce programs, the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) and the Geriatrics Academic Career Award (GACA) at $40.7 million for five years.
The bill, one of the largest spending bills passed in history, provides $150 billion for hospitals, medical equipment and health care worker protections, addresses the record number of unemployment claims during the pandemic by boosting unemployment benefits, sending direct payments to individuals and couples, suspending student loan payments, addressing paid family and sick leave, and reauthorizes Title VIII Nursing Workforce programs among many other provisions.
The geriatrics provisions in this bill would ensure communities across the U.S. have access to health professionals and other critical supports to improve care for us all as we age. This takes a significant step toward training and supporting a healthcare workforce empowered to improve the quality of care for older adults.
“Our nation faces a severe and growing shortage of eldercare professionals with the skills and training to meet the unique healthcare needs of older adults,” said Amy York, Executive Director of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance. “EWA supports this reauthorization because it expands the only federal geriatrics training program and encourages career development in the field. That’s an investment in an eldercare workforce that will support well-coordinated, high-quality care for all older Americans.”
This bipartisan bill includes support to two critical objectives for geriatrics workforce programs. First, it would formally establish funding for the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). Second, it would reestablish the Geriatric Academic Career Awards (GACAs), a previously funded program for developing clinician-educators. By supporting the GWEP and the GACAs, this bill would:
- Foster education and engagement with family caregivers by training providers who can assess and address their care needs and
- Promote interdisciplinary team-based care by transforming clinical training environments to integrate geriatrics and primary care delivery
- Improve the quality of care delivered to older adults by providing education to families and caregivers on critical care challenges like Alzheimer’s disease and related
- Reach underserved and rural communities by ensuring clinician-educators are prepared to train the geriatrics workforce of today and
About EWA: The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a group of 35 national organizations – representing consumers, family caregivers, and health care professionals, including direct care workers – joined together to address the immediate and future workforce crisis in caring for an aging America.
The positions of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance reflect a consensus of 75 percent or more of its members. These statements reflect the consensus of the Alliance and do not necessarily represent the position of individual Alliance member organizations.
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a project of The Tides Center.