Support the Caring for an Aging America Act 2008
Support the Caring for an Aging America Act of 2008 (S.2708) WE NEED YOUR HELP! The United States is facing an immediate and growing crisis in providing care for our aging population, which is projected to almost double from 37 million today to nearly 72 million by 2030. Health care providers with the necessary training to give older Americans the best possible care are in critically short supply. There is an urgent need to prepare physicians to better serve the increasing numbers of older adults. There is also a need to provide more incentives to attract and retain top practitioners into the field of geriatric care, which remains among the least well-compensated specialties. PURPOSE To attract and retain physicians dedicated to providing quality care to the growing population of older Americans by providing loan forgiveness and career advancement opportunities. BACKGROUND The U.S. is rapidly aging, and the need for long-term care is growing. The first wave of baby boomers turns 65 in 2010. Those aged 85 and older are the fastest growing segment of the older population and are the most in need of long-term care services. This age group is projected to double from 4.7 million in 2003 to 9.6 million in 2030, and to double again to 20.9 million in 2050. Most (82%) older adults have at least one chronic condition and about two-thirds (65%) have multiple chronic conditions, which complicates treatment and requires coordinated care. Most health providers in the U.S. receive almost no formal training in the fields of geriatrics or gerontology, which undermines quality of care for America\'s seniors. 7,128 U.S. physicians are certified geriatricians today; 36,000 geriatricians are needed by 2030. Less than 3% of U.S. medical students opt to take an elective in geriatrics. OVERVIEW OF THE LEGISLATION The bill directly addresses the emerging care gap between the dramatically increasing numbers of older Americans and the serious lack of providers who are trained in caring for the medical, health and social support needs of the aging population. The bill utilizes and builds on established mechanisms under the Public Health Service Act and administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Build a cadre of health professionals trained in the care of older adults by linking educational loan repayment to a service commitment to the aging population Establishes the Geriatric and Gerontology Loan Repayment Program for physicians, physician assistants, advance practice nurses, psychologists and social workers who complete specialty training in geriatrics or gerontology and who agree to provide full-time clinical practice and service to older adults for a minimum of two years. The program will utilize the loan repayment mechanism under the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). It will award payments of up to $35,000 a year during the first two years of practice. Participants may be eligible to work a third or fourth year and receive loan payments of up to an additional $40,000 per year. We, the undersigned physicians-in-training, call on the U.S. Senate and House of Representative to pass the comprehensive Caring for an Aging America Act of 2008 that would prepare physicians with the necessary training to meet the medical and health needs of older adults by providing loan forgiveness opportunities.