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February 9, 2023 5:48pm

Bill to bolster health care workforce introduced

Representative Ken Fleming (R-Louisville) filed legislation on Tuesday aimed at addressing the critical shortage of workers in the healthcare industries across Kentucky. House Bill 200 establishes the Kentucky Healthcare Workforce Investment fund which is designed as a public private partnership to boost healthcare training programs in the commonwealth.

The new program would be administered by the Council for Postsecondary Education (CPE) and will create a dollar-for-dollar match open to private donations and grants, as well as appropriations from the General Assembly. 65% of the funding would be used to establish scholarships for students in the healthcare field and the remaining 35% would be used to issue grants to healthcare training programs to invest in faculty, equipment, and other assets.

The scholarships and training would include more traditional roles such as nurses, but also includes mental health, emergency medical services, dental hygiene, and other related fields. Individuals interested in qualifying health care careers may receive scholarships to cover tuition and other expenses such as transportation and training costs. In return, the healthcare partners contributing to the scholarship fund may stipulate that scholarship recipients be employed by the partners for a certain period of time or work in a specific geographical area. All scholarship recipients must agree to practice in their designated field in Kentucky for up to two years.

The establishment of this program will help to fill critical needs in Kentucky by removing barriers to quality careers for individuals while also filling the industries need for qualified professionals. “This bill kickstarts career paths for Kentuckians that are interested in a health care career,” said Rep. Fleming. “It puts a jetpack on the training pipeline for health care professions, for health care certification and licensure.”

HB 200 establishes the framework for further action and appropriation in the 2024 regular session, where the next biennial budget will be determined.