The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a legislative hearing on Oct. 26 titled, “Caring for America: Legislation to Support Patients, Caregivers, and Providers.” The hearing considered the AAMC-supported Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act (H.R. 1667) [refer to Washington Highlights, March 12].
In her opening statement, subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) noted, “In the first year of the pandemic, over 3,600 U.S. health care workers died fighting COVID-19, according to the Guardian and Kaiser Health News, and since February 2020, about 1 in 5 health care workers have quit their jobs. For those still on the job, almost all report experiencing stress, and most report being emotionally and physically exhausted. … This hearing is a first step towards treating our nation’s health care workers as heroes.”
In his opening statement, subcommittee Ranking Member Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.) said, “Now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our country is facing severe workforce shortages, and the health care industry is no exception. Since the beginning of the pandemic, health care workers have stepped up to the plate and have been on the front lines fighting against this terrible virus.”
“One of the most vital health needs confronting Kentucky is the shortage of physicians, particularly primary care doctors serving in community settings. I am proud to represent the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine – Bowling Green campus in my district and my hometown, which aims to address this critical need,” added Rep. Guthrie.
While testifying in support of the Lorna Breen Act, Corey Feist, MBA, co-founder of the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Heroes’ Foundation and chief executive officer of the University of Virginia Physicians Group, noted, “Nearly half of those health care professionals who need mental health treatment won’t have access to it for fear of professional repercussions. Given the trauma and burnout they have experienced, this is like sending the entire health care workforce off to war for 18 months and then refusing to support them when they return.”
Feist also encouraged members to “take up this critical legislation and demonstrate our collective commitment to supporting those who have supported all of us during the past year and a half.” The Senate passed its version of the Lorna Breen Act by unanimous consent earlier this year [refer to Washington Highlights, Aug. 13].
Jeanne Marrazzo, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Marnix E. Heersink School of Medicine, discussed the need to invest in our public health and workforce preparedness and highlighted her support for the Lorna …….