Strengthening the Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce has come to the forefront of conversations about preventable disease and reducing health care disparity across the nation. CHWs are frontline public health workers who are trusted and integrated members of the communities in which they work. A CHW works as a liaison to connect the people who need it most with social and health services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only shed more light on the need for a robust CHW workforce.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced bipartisan legislation to build up the CHW workforce. The Building a Sustainable Workforce for Healthy Communities Act (S.3479), if passed, will reauthorize a competitive grant program to support state and local governments, tribal organizations, and community-based organizations in expanding community health worker programs.

“Investing in the health care workforce has never been so vital,” said Senator Casey in a January 14 press release. “The pandemic highlighted inequities in health care that long preceded it and exacerbated the public health and economic crises we are currently experiencing. Community health workers are uniquely suited to understanding the needs of a community and reducing health risks. By investing our health care workforce, we can put the country on the road to economic recovery.”

The grant funding will be used to recruit and train CHWs, who will help to improve the quality of life in their communities.

The Building a Sustainable Workforce for Healthy Communities Act is now part of the larger Prevent Pandemics bill.

Here is the link to the full Act: