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Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald introduced a nine-bill legislative package earlier this week to combat healthcare staffing shortages with measures that incentivize more people to teach and work in the field, as well as eliminate some of the barriers that prevent qualified applicants from being hired.

NJBIA was among numerous industry stakeholders representing healthcare, business, and educational institutions who joined Greenwald and other lawmakers for a news conference at Virtua Hospital in Voorhees on Wednesday to show  support for the bills.

“There exists a dire shortage of healthcare workers in our state,” said Greenwald (D-4). “Burnout, inflation, and shifting worker expectations have disproportionately impacted the healthcare workforce when compared to other industries.

“With so many in the workforce aged 65 and above, the shortage and vacancy rates are ever growing and nearing catastrophic levels,” Greenwald said. “Worst yet, in the coming years New Jersey is projected to see some of the highest shortages in the nation.”

Unless the trend is reversed, there will be a “dwindling cadre of dedicated professionals” left to care for New Jersey seniors, children and those who are sick and disabled, he said.

The bill package seeks to encourage more people to enter the healthcare industry while eliminating employment barriers. The measures include:

  • A-4613 Greenwald/Pintor-Marin/Jasey/Conaway – Creates a new loan redemption program for primary care physicians, pediatric doctors, psychiatrists, and any other physician identified by the Department of Health as being in short supply
  • A-4614 Greenwald/Jasey/Carter/Lampitt – Changes the eligibility criteria for the Nursing Faculty Loan Redemption Program to incentivize more people to become nursing teachers
  • A-4615 Greenwald/Reynolds-Jackson/Park – Requires the state to foster development and implementation of graduate medical education programs in behavioral health care
  • A-4616 Moriarty/Greenwald/Jaffer – Lessens onerous examination requirements for respiratory care therapists seeking to become licensed in New Jersey
  • A-4617 DeAngelo/Haider/Greenwald – Requires DOL work with healthcare stakeholders to identify unemployed individuals who can be trained to work in healthcare fields
  • A-4618 Freiman/Murphy/Greenwald – Creates an online job portal in DOL to help connect behavioral healthcare workers with job openings
  • A-4619 Greenwald/Conaway/Stanley – Extends temporary emergency licensure for out-of-state practitioners and recent graduates permanently
  • A-4620 Greenwald/Tully/Jimenez – Requires the Board of Medical Examiners and Department of Human Services to work together to create a standardized application for both licensing and Medicaid credentialing
  • A-4621 Mosquera/Greenwald/Swain – Requires a report on processing of professional licenses from the Division of Consumer Affairs

“NJBIA is proud to support this comprehensive bill package to address the many challenges facing the healthcare workforce,” said Alexis Bailey, NJBIA vice president of Government Affairs. “These bills will go a long way in attracting individuals into healthcare professions and ease regulatory burdens while maintaining the highest level of care for New Jerseyans. We thank Majority Leader Greenwald for his continued leadership on this critical issue.”

“For too long, New Jersey’s physicians have been asked to lead the state’s healthcare workforce while facing headwinds that make the practice of medicine unnecessarily difficult,” said Larry Downs, CEO of the Medical Society of New Jersey, the state’s largest and oldest physician professional association. “These measures will help resolve those challenges for physicians across the state and in all stages of practice, and we look forward to partnering with Majority Leader Greenwald to get this important legislative package across the finish line.”

“The sustainability and satisfaction of our health care workforce is a top priority for Virtua Health,” said Dennis W. Pullin, FACHE, President and CEO of Virtua Health. “I thank Majority Leader Greenwald and all the Assembly sponsors for introducing this legislative package to support hospitals in educating and hiring the wide range of health care professionals needed to care for our community, both now and in the years ahead.”

“A robust healthcare workforce is critical to ensuring New Jerseyans have access to the right care, at the right time, in the right place,” said Cathleen Bennett, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association. “New Jersey is projected to be facing one of the nation’s largest workforce staffing gaps in the coming years, a situation that threatens the health of all New Jerseyans. NJHA is committed to working with policymakers and stakeholders to confront this shortfall and provide New Jersey communities with the healthcare and good jobs they need to thrive.”