Funding is Down Payment on Senators’ Health Force Proposal to Support Our Public Health Workforce, Combat the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Prepare for Future Public Health Needs
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced $7.4 billion in funding to hire and train public health workers to support response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and build public health capacity in the future. The funding comes from the Public Health Workforce fund, based on their Health Force proposal, established by the American Rescue Plan Act.
“It’s time we give our public health agencies the resources they deserve and desperately need,” said Bennet. “This funding is critical to beat back the COVID-19 virus, stop future surges, and prepare our health infrastructure for the years to come. With this funding, Colorado will be able to train thousands of public health workers to continue contact tracing, testing, and vaccinating, create jobs, especially in underserved and rural communities, and ensure an end to this pandemic. I look forward to seeing this funding distributed in our communities and, alongside my colleagues, I will continue to push for the establishment of a permanent Health Force."
“Senator Bennet and I fought for the inclusion of the Health Force in the American Rescue Plan, and I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris Administration to implement this critical program, which will strengthen the efforts of frontline community health workers fighting against COVID-19,” said Gillibrand. “I am especially pleased that $3 billion will be used to create a new grant program to provide under-resourced health departments with the support they need to hire staff from the communities that they will serve. This is how we build a strong public health workforce."
The $7.4 billion from the American Rescue Plan will be used to recruit and hire public health workers to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for future public health needs.
The funding breaks down as follows:
- $3.4 billion in funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for state and local public health departments to surge staff needs to support COVID-19 response - including vaccination outreach and administration, contact tracing, and testing. At least $500 million is carved out to hire school nurses to support families and give medical advice as youth go back to school.
- $3 billion to create a new grant program at the CDC to modernize the public health workforce and help under-resourced public health departments build capacity. The CDC plans to convene experts to design this program.
- $400 million to launch a new public health workforce program, Public Health AmeriCorps, jointly through the CDC and the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- $337 million to build the public health laboratory workforce and improve the nation’s clinical laboratory infrastructure.
- $245 million to expand the Epidemic Intelligence Service and other professional public health programs and develop a strong epidemiologist pipeline to track outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
- $80 million at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to train public health professionals to update public health data infrastructure, focusing on recruiting from minority serving institutions.
In April 2020, Bennet and Gillibrand announced legislation to create the Health Force, which would recruit, train, and employ hundreds of thousands of Americans to expand our public health workforce for the COVID-19 response and strengthen our capacity to meet America’s longer-term public health needs.
In January 2021, Bennet, Gillibrand, and nine of their Democratic colleagues introduced The Health Force, Resilience Force, and Jobs to Fight COVID-19 Act to create a Health Force to mobilize Americans and combat the COVID-19 pandemic and a Resilience Force to expand and mobilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a whole-of-government effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
In March, the American Rescue Plan Act delivered $7.66 billion for a new public health workforce based on Bennet and Gillibrand’s “Health Force'' legislation to expand the nation’s public health workforce and infrastructure. Later that month, Bennet and Gillibrand led a group of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CDC outlining recommendations and guidelines for the Biden Administration as it works to implement the Health Force program to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.