The Obama administration is set to announce a $1 billion program on Monday to hire and train healthcare workers who work with patients in federal healthcare programs, part of the White House's 'We Can't Wait' initiative to boost the economy following the stall of the American Jobs Act in Congress.
The funding will be dispersed in grants to physicians, community groups and other organizations that treat patients in enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, according to a report by The Washington Post. The program will reportedly be overseen by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which was created as part of the Affordable Care Act.
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Although the healthcare industry has been increasing substantially in recent years -- the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports about 313,000 jobs were added in 2010 alone -- employment in the industry is expected to grow as baby boomers age, according to the BLS. Moreover, experts predict more healthcare professionals will be needed once Affordable Care Act expands insurance coverage to millions of Americans when it takes effect in 2014
The BLS reports the healthcare industry is expected to generate 3.2 million jobs by 2018.
Larger Role for Community-Based Care Givers
Due to the expected demand for healthcare services, The Post reports federal agencies are hoping to develop alternate methods of delivering care that puts a larger emphasis on the role of community-based caregivers, such as pharmacy techs, community workers and volunteers, and clinic managers.
"We have a wealth of good ideas in health care, but the big challenge is spread," Don Berwick, an administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Post. "This will be seed money to get innovation to go further. This is venture capital to grow good ideas to scale."
Alternative methods of care may be necessary, since the U.S. is need of more doctors. The Association of American Medical Colleges reports the U.S. will have a shortage of 63,000 physicians by 2015, a figure estimated to surpass 130,000 by 2025.
The shortage is already being felt in rural areas of the nation. Although about 20 percent of the population lives in rural areas, the American Academy of Family Physicians reports only about 10 percent of working doctors practice in those communities.