Address health care workforce burnout and build resilience.
Rationale: Providers on the frontlines of COVID-19 are suffering mental health effects. Community health centers must have the resources to support them.
Recommendation: Funding for evidence-based interventions at community health centers to ensure that providers are connected to behavioral health resources and peer support.
Reduce barriers to provider loan forgiveness.
Rationale: FQHCs are understaffed, yet loan forgiveness programs are not fully utilized. Reducing barriers to participation or streamlining the program could have significant impact.
Recommendation: Provide guaranteed loan forgiveness eligibility for providers working in FQHCs, and/or provide allotments to FQHCs through 330 grants for clinicians and other eligible staff.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) should prioritize workforce diversity through data, evaluation, and funding.
Rationale: Despite strong evidence that representative workforce improves health outcomes, HRSA does not collect data, nor evaluate health centers, on the diversity of their workforce.
Recommendation: As part of annual reviews, HRSA should require FQHCs to submit data on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability status of their workforce. Over time, HRSA should incorporate these measures into formal evaluation criteria and establish a pool of funding to ensure that centers are able to recruit and hire diverse staff.
Continue to invest in the successful Teaching Health Center model.
Rationale: FQHCs are exceptional training facilities for providers given the range of clinical and social conditions among the patient population. Yet, many health centers do not participate due to lack of start-up funds and unclear pathway to sustainability.
Recommendation: With a careful eye to evaluation, expand the Teaching Health Center model by $6 billion. Provide funds to interested FQHCs to cover start-up costs and provide funds sustainably beyond the number of residents.
Integrate FQHCs more fully in graduate medical education.
Rationale: FQHCs provide an important extension to may hospital-based training programs for both specialty care and primary care providers.
Recommendation: Work with Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to reduce barriers and provide incentives for FQHCs to partner on GME funding.
Improve and expand the workforce pipeline for FQHCs.
Rationale: FQHCs often struggle to find qualified staff for a range of positions, which impacts their ability to grow and innovate.
Recommendation: Increase funding for top programs at the Department of Labor and Department of Education that support FQHC workforce development, including community college partnerships and apprenticeship programs.
Establish and disseminate leadership training and incentives for FQHC workforce.
Rationale: FQHCs suffer from a lack of leaders in all areas of patient care.
Recommendation: HRSA should develop standardized leadership training to encourage and facilitate career ladder mobility within health centers.