Rep. Krishnamoorthi and Sen. Kaine’s bill to expand health workforce includes use of foreign-trained personnel 

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi. Photo:
Senator Tim Kaine. PHOTO: Facebook

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday, April 9, 2024, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) introduced the bicameral Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act, legislation that will address shortages plaguing the health care sector. The companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA).

Of the two million college-educated immigrants currently living in the U.S., roughly 14 percent hold health-related degrees, but are not in the health care field, noted an April 12 press release from Krishnamoorthi.

“This underutilization of internationally educated professionals, unable to overcome barriers to fully integrate into the health care workforce in America, is contributing to fewer health care professionals while adding greater strain to our health care system,” the lawmakers noted, estimating that this gap is responsible for $10 billion in unpaid federal, state, and local taxes annually.

“Every day, I hear from my constituents about the difficulties of accessing care due to the ongoing health care workforce shortage our country faces,” said Krishnamoorthi, adding that his legislation could ensure that the system, “is fully staffed through supporting community partnerships, streamlining licensing and credentialing for qualified health care workers trained overseas, and expanding opportunities to address classroom and clinical instructor shortages.”

“I recently met with students who shared with me their frustrations of immigrating to the United States, having a degree and significant experience, and not being able to find a job in their field that’s commensurate with their skills,” Senator Kaine said. “At a time when I’m hearing from hospitals and other health care employers about how difficult it is to find workers, we should be making it easier for these individuals to enter the health care workforce. I’m proud to introduce this bill to address common barriers that internationally educated health care professionals face and help ensure that our communities benefit from their many talents.”

Specifically, the Welcome Back to the Health Care Workforce Act would create a grant program administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration to:

  • Support communities in developing local- and state-level partnerships between health care organizations, community-based organizations, higher education, and state and local governments to help connect internationally educated health care professionals with the resources they need to enter the health care workforce.
  • Address barriers internationally educated health care professionals trying to enter the health care workforce face, by
  • Assisting with obtaining overseas academic or training records and providing support throughout the U.S. licensing and credentialing process;
  • Developing work-readiness, peer support, mentoring, and culturally competent career counseling opportunities;
  • Establishing opportunities to complete necessary prerequisite courses, continuing education training, and English-language learning; and
  • Supporting growth opportunities to address classroom and clinical instructor shortages.
  • Give priority to partnerships focused on supporting health care workers serving rural communities or filling a workforce shortage within a community.

The bill is supported by numerous advocacy organizations

(A full copy of the bill text is available here.)



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here