“A federal Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment program would be a vital incentive to help recruit and retain talented professionals to work in local, state, and tribal health departments, and represents an important investment in strengthening health department capacity in the years to come,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman.
— Bipartisan legislation would provide for a public health workforce loan repayment program to support recruitment and retention of top talent to health departments —
Washington, DC, January 14, 2022 — The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), on behalf of the country’s nearly 3,000 local health departments, applauds the reintroduction of the Strengthening the Public Health Workforce Act.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the vital role local health departments play in keeping their communities safe and healthy. But a decade of disinvestment and the multi-year pandemic response has stretched health departments thin. The public health workforce needs attention now – not only to get us through the pandemic, but to address other critical public health challenges in our communities. That is why we are so grateful to Senators Smith, Booker, Collins, and Murkowski for reintroducing this legislation. A federal Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment program would be a vital incentive to help recruit and retain talented professionals to work in local, state, and tribal health departments, and represents an important investment in strengthening health department capacity in the years to come,” said NACCHO Chief Executive Officer Lori Tremmel Freeman.
Health departments across the country face significant workforce challenges to maintaining robust staffing levels and recruiting and retaining needed professionals. Since 2008, local health departments have lost more than 20% of their workforce capacity and before the pandemic, a survey of health department staff found that nearly half were projected to leave the field in the next five years due to retirement or to pursue opportunities in the private sector. The COVID-19 response may hasten workforce shifts, creating an urgency to addressing the public health workforce crisis. NACCHO has led a broad coalition of more than 100 public health, healthcare, and labor organizations to support the creation of a public health loan repayment program to help address these workforce pressures by incentivizing recent graduates to bring their talents to health departments across the country.
The Strengthening the Public Health Workforce Act would provide education loan repayment assistance to eligible individuals who work in a state, local, or tribal public health department. Under the program, an individual could receive up to $35,000 in repayment assistance for each year of service.
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The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) represents the nation’s nearly 3,000 local governmental health departments. These city, county, metropolitan, district, and tribal departments work every day to protect and promote health and well-being for all people in their communities. For more information about NACCHO, please visit www.naccho.org.