Quick Takes

Bill addressing Kentucky’s health-care workforce shortages clears House 

By: - March 8, 2023 6:48 pm

Registered nurses make up the largest chunk of Kentucky’s nursing workforce. Most Kentucky nurses are female, and most are white, according to data collected by the state Board of Nursing. (Getty Images)

A Kentucky bill aimed at addressing Kentucky’s health-care workforce shortages passed the House Wednesday 92-1. 

House Bill 200 would create a health-care workforce fund through a private-public partnership administered by the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE), the Lantern previously reported.

Most of the money in the fund – 65% – would be reserved for educational scholarships for folks who want to pursue a health-care career and will prioritize underrepresented Kentuckians. The other 35% would be reserved for incentive prizes.

The “health care workforce is one of the major issues that’s facing us,” primary sponsor Rep. Ken Fleming, R-Louisville, said on the House floor, adding his approach is “innovative and creative.” 

The CPE, Kentucky Nurses Association, Healthcare CEO Council, Kentucky Center for Assisted Living and the Kentucky Association of Health Care Facilities have previously voiced support for the model. 

The Kentucky Hospital Association’s 2022 workforce report showed more than 13,000 vacancies in the state’s hospitals. The state had a hospital workforce vacancy of 17% at the time of the report. Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses were most needed. 

Fleming’s bill would support nurses as well as emergency medical services staff, mental health care workers and other professions. 

The KHA report also showed the highest vacancy rates were in: 

  • medical-surgical, 
  • critical care,
  • emergency room.

“This is a growing crisis,” Fleming said, “that threatens not only to burden family  providers, but may jeopardize the very availability of critical health care services across the country.” 

The bill will not receive funding this year, Fleming previously said, but will rather establish a “framework” for solving the workforce shortages crisis in the future.

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Sarah Ladd
Sarah Ladd

Sarah Ladd is a Louisville-based journalist from West Kentucky who's covered everything from crime to higher education. She spent nearly two years on the metro breaking news desk at The Courier Journal. In 2020, she started reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic and has covered health ever since. As the Kentucky Lantern's health reporter, she focuses on mental health, LGBTQ+ issues, children's welfare, COVID-19 and more.

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