Cicilline Introduces Bill to Increase Number of Critical Health Care Workers

Mar 19, 2020

Bill will help prepare U.S. to respond to the next global pandemic


WASHINGTON – Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chair David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced the Allied Health Personnel Shortage Act today to address the growing shortage of clinical lab professionals and other associated health care workers nationwide. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for a strong allied health care workforce made up of clinical lab technicians, respiratory therapists, and radiographers, amongst others.


“Often taken for granted, allied health professionals are some of the unsung heroes of our health care system,” Cicilline said. “Their tireless efforts to support doctors, nurses, and patients can prove to be the difference between life or death, especially during a pandemic like the one we’re fighting. We need to continue incentivizing young folks to choose these professions to ensure that we have the workforce necessary to handle the next global pandemic.”


As the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow and hospitals are pushed to capacity, it is clear that the United States must grow its health care workforce. The Bureau of Labor anticipates needed growth of 12,000 new medical laboratory professionals per year to meet growing demand under normal circumstances, but academic programs produced just 6,300 graduates in 2017. Worse yet, this number hasn’t grown in the past five years.


The Allied Health Personnel Shortage Act would bolster the health care workforce by establishing a program of scholarships and loan repayment to alleviate shortages of clinical laboratory scientists and other allied health professionals. The scholarship and loan repayment program includes a period of obligated service for recipients in a designated health professional shortage area.