The federal government is giving the University of Wisconsin $150,000 for health care worker research as part of $11.3 million coming to the state for health care workers and low-income citizens this week, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The money for Wisconsin is part of a larger $320 million allocated by the government as part of the Affordable Care Act, which is meant to lower health care costs by improving efficiency in the primary care workforce, according to a statement from the HHS.
The money is coming in the form of two separate grants aimed at increasing the number of health care workers and recruiting new workers; the majority coming from the Health Profession Opportunity Grant.
UW’s money will be used to analyze the current health care worker system and find new ways to increase the health care workforce, according to the HHS statement.
Additional money will be allocated to three organizations in Wisconsin. The College of Menominee Nation in Keshena will receive just over $2 million, Gateway Technical College in Kenosha will receive $1.8 million and the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, Inc. will receive the remaining $3.4 million, according to the statement.
Wisconsin received the most from this grant of the 23 states receiving funding as part of the Affordable Care Act. The next-closest state, New York, received $1 million less than Wisconsin.
Under this grant, Wisconsin will receive an additional $7.3 million to be used for training low-income citizens in various health care-related jobs, like nursing home assistants and emergency medical technicians, according to the statement.
Additionally, the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation will receive $3.8 million to increase the number of residents trained in medical-related careers, including pediatricians and family practitioners, and will also be allocated as a stipend for residents.
In the next five years, funding from the program is expected to produce 889 new health care workers across the country, with a 10 to 25 percent increase in the workforce by 2020, according to the HHS statement.
The issue of health care has long been a hot topic in the current race for governor and the candidates’ opinion on this new health care funding differ greatly.
Democratic candidate Tom Barrett sees this new chunk of funding as essential for the continued success of the health care system in Wisconsin, Phil Walzak, a Barrett spokesperson said.
“Thankfully, Wisconsin is well positioned because of its health care infrastructure to receive funding,” Walzak said. “To refuse this money would only mean giving it to other states.”
A spokesperson for Republican candidate Scott Walker warned against the government going too far, however, and this new money could present a slippery slope.