November 09, 2021

Wyden, Heinrich Lead Introduction Of Pathways To Health Careers Act, Fight To Include In Build Back Better Plan

The senators’ legislation builds upon two-generation health career opportunity grants

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) reintroduced the Pathways to Health Careers Act that builds on the success of the Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) Program. The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).

In the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Representative Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee, secured the HPOG program’s reauthorization as part of the Build Back Better Act. The senators are fighting in the Senate to ensure this remains a central part of the reconciliation bill.

The Pathways to Health Careers Act uses the same two-generation approach that Senator Heinrich has long-championed and combines job training with critical family supports that low-income parents need to succeed in achieving their health care career goals. Senator Heinrich introduced the legislation in the 116th Congress. Rep. Davis leads the legislation in the House.

“Today helping struggling families also means addressing the nation's health care worker shortage," said Wyden. "COVID-19 delivered a double whammy to the health care system and families who were struggling even before the pandemic hit. America has an opportunity to meet this moment by providing low-income families the resources they need -- job training, child care, transportation and more -- to begin careers as well-paid health professionals.”

“The Pathways to Health Careers Act offers a two-generation approach that helps lift low-income families out of poverty and lines them up for successful employment in the health care industry,” said Heinrich. “This legislation includes support for services like child care, transportation, and career coaching to provide a supportive pathway to a career – not just an entry-level job – in a well-paid and in-demand health profession. I will continue fighting for resources like this in the Build Back Better Framework that allow all families to get an education and champion their way to success together.”

“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated our nation’s shortage of allied health care employees and profoundly harmed millions of vulnerable workers - especially women, mothers, and people of color,” said Davis. “This legislation will help workers with barriers to employment enter health careers that are in high-demand, growing our workforce, strengthening our economy, and improving the health of our communities. I am proud to work with Senator Martin Heinrich to advance the successful Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program.”

Created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the HPOG Program stands out among other job training approaches because of the mix of support services, career coaching, job placement, and post-employment training provided as part of the program. The program helps increase the number of qualified health professionals in both rural, Tribal, and urban areas in need of more workers.

The Pathways to Health Careers Act opens the door for Americans struggling to get ahead.

  • Extends current Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program demonstrations to finish the current grant cycle, authorizes two new targeted demonstration grants, and begins providing regular Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program competitive grants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, in Tribal communities, and in the U.S. territories, in order to build on Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program success in getting disadvantaged people good jobs while addressing the health care workforce shortage.
  • Invests in rural America; it provides granting preference to applicants that are located in rural areas, are training participants who commute from rural areas, and/or who are placing Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program graduates in jobs in rural communities.
  • Invests in Tribal communities; the bill drastically increases the funding set aside for Tribal communities, and ensures that Tribal Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program applicants are only competing amongst each other for funding (rather than competing amongst the entire country).

To date, the HPOG Program has served over 60,000 participants in 23 states. The Pathways to Health Careers Act would authorize new grants from 2022 to 2026, with increased annual funding of $318.75 million, to conduct additional research and to make the proven Health Profession Opportunity Grant Program model available across the country.

The Pathways to Health Careers Act has been endorsed by Ascend at the Aspen Institute, American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP), Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts, Family Equality, Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board, Jobs For the Future (JFF), LeadingAge, National Association of State Directors of Adult Education (NASDAE), National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB), State University of New York at Schenectady County Community College (SUNY Schenectady), University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, and The Justice Roundtable Re-Entry Working Group.

“We know from the research, smart federal investments, like the Pathways to Health Careers Act, increase economic mobility for communities by giving entire families the resources they need to thrive,” said Anne Mosle, vice president of The Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “By taking a 2Gen approach and focusing on jobs in the growing health sector, the Pathways Act will build opportunities for generations to come.”