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February 7, 2023

CT hospitals support student-loan forgiveness, debt-free college programs to boost healthcare workforce

Cloe Poisson | CT Mirror Pamelia Bogle, an anesthesia technician at Hartford Hospital, holds a reassuring heart sign at a 2020 celebration for National Nurses Week at Hartford Hospital.

The Connecticut Hospital Association on Tuesday said it will throw its support behind three bills that aim to help address the state’s healthcare workforce shortage.

They include proposals that would create a debt-free college program for healthcare workers and a student-loan forgiveness program for college graduates who pursue careers in health care. 

A third bill would require the Board of Regents for Higher Education, which oversees the state’s public college system, to conduct a study regarding workforce development concerns in the state.

The bills will be debated at a public hearing Tuesday in front of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee.

The American Hospital Association has estimated there is a nationwide shortage of 1.1 million nurses and significant shortages in many other healthcare professions from medical lab workers to paramedics, according to the CHA, which represents the state's various hospitals.

“Healthcare workers in Connecticut have been exceptional in responding to the pandemic and all of its impacts over the last three years,” the CHA wrote in testimony. “But it has taken a toll on them – adding more stress, leading to exhaustion and burnout. Challenges that existed before the pandemic have been exacerbated.

"… As we continue to respond to the effects of the pandemic and its impact over the last three years and look to build the future healthcare delivery system in our state, we know that we need to expand Connecticut’s healthcare workforce. As hospitals confront significant financial headwinds brought on by record inflation and exacerbated by the need to hire temporary, contract labor, a partnership with the state to support the workforce is now more important than ever.”

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