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General Laws

Section 25L. (a) There shall be in the department a health care workforce center to improve access to health and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health care services. The center, in consultation with the health care workforce advisory council established by section 25M and the secretary of labor and workforce development, shall: (1) coordinate the department’s health care workforce activities with other state agencies and public and private entities involved in health care workforce training, recruitment and retention, including with the activities of the Health Care Workforce Transformation Fund; (2) monitor trends in access to primary care providers, and nurse practitioners and physician assistants practicing as primary care providers, behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health providers, and other physician and nursing providers, through activities including (i) reviewing existing data and collection of new data as needed to assess the capacity of the health care and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health care workforce to serve patients, including patients with disabilities whose disabilities may include but are not limited to intellectual and developmental disabilities, including patient access and regional disparities in access to physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health care professionals and to examine physician, nursing and physician assistant, behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals’ satisfaction; (ii) reviewing existing laws, regulations, policies, contracting or reimbursement practices, and other factors that influence recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses, physician assistants, behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals; (iii) projecting the ability of the workforce to meet the needs of patients over time; (iv) identifying strategies currently being employed to address workforce needs, shortages, recruitment and retention; (v) studying the capacity of public and private medical, nursing, physician assistant, behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professional schools in the commonwealth to expand the supply of primary care physicians and nurse practitioners and physician assistants practicing as primary care providers and licensed behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals; (3) establish criteria to identify underserved areas in the commonwealth for administering the loan repayment program established under section 25N and for determining statewide target areas for health care provider placement based on the level of access; and (4) address health care workforce shortages through the following activities, including: (i) coordinating state and federal loan repayment and incentive programs for health care providers; (ii) providing assistance and support to communities, physician groups, community health centers and community hospitals in developing cost-effective and comprehensive recruitment initiatives; (iii) maximizing all sources of public and private funds for recruitment initiatives; (iv) designing pilot programs and making regulatory and legislative proposals to address workforce needs, shortages, recruitment and retention; and (v) making short-term and long-term programmatic and policy recommendations to improve workforce performance, address identified workforce shortages and recruit and retain physicians, nurses, physician assistants and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals.

(b) The center shall maintain ongoing communication and coordination with the health disparities council, established by section 16O of chapter 6A.

(c) The center shall annually submit a report, not later than March 1, to the governor, the health disparities council, established by section 16O of chapter 6A; and the general court, by filing the same with the clerk of the house of representatives, the clerk of the senate, the joint committee on labor and workforce development, the joint committee on health care financing, and the joint committee on public health. The report shall include: (1) data on patient access and regional disparities in access to physicians, by specialty and sub-specialty, and nurses, physician assistants, behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals; (2) data on factors influencing recruitment and retention of physicians, nurses, physician assistants, and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals; (3) short and long-term projections of physician, nurse, physician assistant and behavioral, substance use disorder and mental health professionals supply and demand; (4) strategies being employed by the council or other entities to address workforce needs, shortages, recruitment and retention; (5) recommendations for designing, implementing and improving programs or policies to address workforce needs, shortages, recruitment and retention; and (6) proposals for statutory or regulatory changes to address workforce needs, shortages, recruitment and retention.

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