WesternU supports AAHC Senate testimony

The president of one of the U.S.’s most comprehensive health-sciences universities today came out strongly in favor of the Assocation of Academic Health Centers’ (AAHC) recommendations that development of the nation’s health-care workforce become a matter of national policy, and that a new, national-level organization be formed to create and implement national health-care workforce policy.

"True health care reform is desperately needed in our country, but such reform isn’t possible without a rethinking of our health-care workforce policies," Dr. Philip Pumerantz, president of WesternU, said following Senate Finance Committee testimony by Dr. Steven A. Wartman, president and CEO of the AAHC.

"Current health workforce policies are all over the map, and are inadequate to address the growing social and economic strains on the health-care system," Pumerantz said. "These problems are well known, well documented and long discussed. Uncoordinated and inconsistent federal, state and private policymaking has proved inadequate to meet the health-care challenges facing our nation."

AAHC’s recommendations – presented at the Finance Committee’s hearing, "Workforce Issues in Health Care Reform: Assessing the Present and Preparing for the Future" – are chiefly that the nation’s health workforce become a national priority policy issue, and that a multi-stakeholder health workforce planning group be created to develop and implement comprehensive national health workforce policy.

Wartman, citing the AAHC report "Out of Order, Out of Time: The State of the Nation’s Health Workforce," noted the critical relationship of workforce issues to reform proposals and called attention to flawed workforce policies, including inadequate access to primary care and shortages in many health professions.

Wartman recommended the immediate appointment of a national health workforce coordinator and creation of a permanent national health workforce planning body that would mesh public and private standards, requirements, and prevailing practices across jurisdictions; address access to health professions education and the ability of educational institutions to respond to economic, social, and environmental factors that impact the workforce; and identify unintended adverse interactions among public and private policies, standards, and requirements.

"WesternU is committed to leading by example and working with the AAHC and others to build a national workforce agenda and see it through to implementation," WesternU’s Dr. Pumerantz said. "We are committed to addressing the health-care needs of all people, providing the highest-quality health professions education possible, and leading the way in health-sciences research and medical innovation.

"The time for reform is now," he concluded.