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Sen. Tina Smith proposes legislation to rebuild public health workforce

The legislation is set to meet demands of future health care emergencies
Sen. Tina Smith introduces new legislature to combat healthcare worker shortage.
Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:42 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 20, 2022 at 10:43 PM CST
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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The ongoing effects of the pandemic are causing waves in several areas of life, including staffing shortages at several levels such as public health.

“It was a problem before the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw lots of retirements but COVID has made it so much worse, people are exhausted and burned out and folks are retiring a couple years early,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said.

Smith has introduced a bipartisan bill with three other senators to reinforce and expand the public health workforce. The legislation, which is titled the Strengthening the Public Health Workforce Act, includes a provision shortening obligated service time.

“What it does is it says that if you go to into the field of public health, or you sign up to work at a county or tribal or a city health department you can have the option of having some of your student loans paid,” Smith said.

The future of the virus and its variants are unclear, but Smith emphasizes the importance of vaccines and testing and believes that this piece of legislation will work to improve testing.

“Having a strong public health workforce is useful for getting testing out there, getting testing in schools which we are doing right now, making sure that people have access to vaccines and boosters, so I think that this will help for sure with all of that,” Smith said.

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