Assembly Considers Health Care Workforce Proposals

On Monday, March 14, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 1 on Health and Human Services heard the Governor’s health care workforce budget proposals under the Department of Health Care Access and Information (HCAI). Representatives from the HCAI, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Vision y Compromiso, and CHEAC were invited to participate in the panel discussion. While proposals were focused on health care workforce, CHEAC Executive Director Michelle Gibbons highlighted California’s public health workforce challenges and the lack of investments focused on bolstering the public health workforce pipeline.

During the discussion, Assembly Member Arambula noted his sensitivity to the pipeline challenges public health departments face and the turnover and attrition that has occurred during the pandemic. He noted his interest in doing what we can to support recruitment into public health and his hope to engage with the Administration to figure out how to budget and resource for that. He specifically asked HCAI why public health was not included in the care economy workforce proposal. Elizabeth Landsberg, HCAI Director, noted that the focus of the department has historically been limited to the primary care, behavioral health, and dental workforce and that they currently do not have programs to support public health, such as programs for epidemiologist and microbiologists.

The Governor’s January budget would provide $296.5 million in FY 2023 and $370.5 million in FY 2023-24 and FY 2024-25 to HCAI to support the following initiatives in the Workforce for a Healthy California for All Program:

Community Health Workers. Support a new program to recruit, train, and certify 25,000 new community health workers by 2025.

Comprehensive Nursing Initiative. Increase the numbers of registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, certified nursing assistants, certified nurse midwives, certified medical assistants, family nurse practitioners, and other health professions through the expansion of existing workforce programs.

Social Workers. Increase the number of social workers trained in California by supporting social work training programs and providing stipends and scholarships to create a new pipeline for diverse social workers.

Psychiatric Residents. Increase the number of behavioral health providers such as psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychologists through additional residency slots in from FY 2022-23 through FY 2024-25.

Multilingual Health Initiatives. Increase the linguistic and cultural competencies in the health workforce by expanding scholarship and loan repayment opportunities for multilingual applicants.

Opioid Response Initiatives. Support a three-year grant program for community-based substance use disorder providers focused on opioid treatment and establish a pilot project to provide vocational rehabilitation services for consumers with opioid use disorders and train the provider workforce to include employment services as part of participation in treatment.

No action was taken by the committees and items were held open. The full agenda for Monday’s hearing is available here. A video recording of the hearing is available here.