In a recent statement praising a $1.5 billion plan to enhance access to healthcare to certain areas of the country, Vice President Kamala Harris said that providing healthcare in rural and underserved communities is a persistent problem that has only gotten worse over the past two years.
According to the Washington Examiner, the plan unveiled on Monday is meant to support more than 22,700 healthcare practitioners, including physicians, dentists, nurses, and mental health experts. It will grant scholarships and debt reimbursements to students who train and practice in “hard-hit and high-risk” locations where doctors are hard to come by.
With average medical school debt topping $200,000, one of the plan’s main objectives is to diversify the workforce by providing more financial aid. Harris claimed, “These professionals will look like America and will be better prepared to provide equitable care to America.”
White House statistics show approximately 7% of physicians are black or Hispanic, compared to more than 25% of doctors in the National Health Service Corps, one of the groups that would benefit from the program. The funds come from President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which he signed in March.
This month, over $2.3 billion has already been dedicated to providing healthcare to disadvantaged areas of the United States, including a $785 million project to increase vaccine propaganda in rural areas and low-income communities.
During her speech, Harris also highlighted initiatives including ramping up vaccination sites, offering free public transportation, and deploying mobile vaccination units to people who can’t get to a clinic or make an appointment. Additionally, she urged Congress to pass the $1.85 trillion Build Back Better Act, which she claims will lower healthcare rates, bridge the Medicaid coverage gap, and invest in maternal health.
After a difficult couple of weeks, Harris was desperate to announce an arguably positive development. Last week, the vice president’s communications director resigned amid record low popularity ratings, prompting speculation that Biden might replace Harris before 2024. Harris was also allegedly concerned that she was being assigned unpleasant responsibilities like managing the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, while possible opponent Pete Buttigieg was put in charge of the slightly less offensive infrastructure plan.
Surgeon General Vivek Murthy spoke before Harris, discussing how he got into medicine and how he is fortunate to serve under the first black and first Indian-American vice president. Murthy praised the administration for “keeping equity centered in our COVID-19 response” and noted that black, white, and Hispanic people now have comparable vaccination rates.
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