The American Geriatrics Society (AGS) again pledged enthusiastic support for the Educating Medical Professionals and Optimizing Workforce Efficiency and Readiness (EMPOWER) for Health Act of 2019 (HR 2781). HR 2781 took a significant step toward becoming law in July 2019 following approval of the legislation’s language by the full House Energy & Commerce Committee. The measure will now move to the House floor for consideration.
Introduced by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Burgess (R-TX) earlier this year, the bill reauthorizes workforce training programs under Title VII of the Public Health Service Act. Among these are the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) and the Geriatrics Academic Career Awards (GACAs), both critical to the long-term care all Americans need as our population continues to age.
The GWEPs educate and engage the broader frontline workforce and family caregivers, and focus on opportunities to improve the quality of care delivered to older adults—particularly in underserved and rural areas. The GACAs represent an essential complement to the GWEP. Grounded in health professions education, GACAs ensure we can equip early career clinician-educators to become leaders in geriatrics training and research.
The EMPOWER for Health Act would authorize funding of $51 million annually through 2024, allowing current and future awardees to:
Educate and engage with family caregivers by training providers who can assess and address their care needs and preferences.
Promote interprofessional team-based care by transforming clinical training environments to integrate geriatrics and primary care delivery systems.
Improve the quality of care delivered to older adults by providing education to families and caregivers on critical care challenges such as Alzheimer disease and related dementias.
Support clinician-educators engaged in geriatrics education and research to develop the next generation of innovators to improve care outcomes and care delivery.
Through a legislative process known as “markup,” the House Committee on Energy & Commerce reviewed and unanimously approved the bill’s language and proposals. The Subcommittee on Health completed an initial review of the bill—also approved unanimously by voice vote—in mid-July.
“Representatives Schakowsky and Burgess introduced an incredibly strong draft with HR 2781, in large part because they worked so collaboratively with expert partners like the AGS,” noted AGS Chief Executive Officer Nancy Lundebjerg, MPA. “We commend them for their support of the geriatrics workforce training programs and for their ongoing efforts to improve care of older Americans.”
Introduced in the US House of Representatives on May 16, the EMPOWER for Health Act draws considerable insights from the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), a collaborative comprised of more than 30 member organizations co-convened by the AGS. Like EWA itself, the EMPOWER for Health Act under consideration by the Health Subcommittee now reflects the diverse expertise of millions of health professionals who support older Americans.