More primary care providers are on the way thanks to $250 million in new investments from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The investments, made possible by the Affordable Care Act, are designed to increase the number of health care providers and strengthen the primary care workforce.

Experts have projected a continued primary care shortfall due to the needs of an aging population and a decline in the number of medical students choosing primary care. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimated that the nation would have a shortage of approximately 21,000 primary care physicians in 2015. Building on the earlier investments made by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the Affordable Care Act, particularly for the National Health Service Corps, these investments will support the training and development of more than 16,000 new primary care providers over the next five years.

These investments are the first allocation from the new $500 million Prevention and Public Health fund for fiscal year 2010, created by the Affordable Care Act. Half of this fund will be used to boost the supply of primary care providers by providing new resources for:

  • Creating additional primary care residency slots;
  • Supporting physician assistant training in primary care;
  • Encouraging students to pursue full-time nursing careers;
  • Establishing new nurse practitioner-led clinics; and
  • Encouraging states to plan for and address health professional workforce needs.

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