Allied Health Workforce Diversity Legislation Introduced on July 9, 2019
The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019, sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), was introduced on July 9, 2019, and the text thereof is expected to be offered as an amendment to HR 2781—a bill to reauthorize Title VII of the Public Health Service Act—on July 11, 2019.
This legislation would make scholarships and stipends available to students underrepresented in the professions of audiology, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy (including those who are racial or ethnic minorities, or are from disadvantaged backgrounds). Eligible students must also demonstrate a financial need for assistance and be enrolled in a qualifying professional program.
This legislation also requires the HHS Secretary to take into consideration the recommendations of national professional organizations, including the American Academy of Audiology, and includes in the list of eligible programs, those accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE). Academy staff worked with the bill sponsors and the other professional organizations to ensure the inclusion of bill references to the American Academy of Audiology and ACAE accreditation.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) Statement on the Legislation
“I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of occupational therapy, speech pathology, audiology, and physical therapy in helping people to live more full and independent lives. That’s why I’m joining in introducing this bipartisan legislation to encourage a more diverse workforce in these fields. When people from underserved areas go into these fields, they are more likely to serve our rural communities. This bill will help better serve Eastern Washington and the people who rely on these allied health professionals.”
Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) Statement on the Legislation
“African-Americans have, for too long, been underrepresented in the health sector, making up less than 5 percent of physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists. That is unacceptable, as it is not how America looks. The U.S. Institute of Medicine has found evidence that patients have better health outcomes when the doctor and patient are the same race or ethnicity,” Rush said. “I am pleased to work on this legislation to help minority and underrepresented communities to provide pathways to meaningful, high-paying jobs in the health sector and to help expand health professional coverage to communities that need it. By working together, we can make real change for Americans across the country and affirm our commitment to allow everyone the opportunity to achieve the American dream.”