Today, the United States faces a significant and pervasive health care workforce shortage, especially in underserved communities. The pandemic has placed an enormous strain on essential hospital employees, with burnout at an all-time high. Recruitment and retention have become urgent concerns, as the demand for care and provider shortages have converged, affecting not only patient care but also exacerbating challenges to maintaining a mentally and physically healthy workforce at sufficient levels.
Essential hospitals care for a disproportionate share of patients who are uninsured, underinsured, or covered by Medicaid and Medicare, which contributes to narrow operating margins and strained financial resources. These slim financial margins make it harder for essential hospitals to mitigate the challenges of rising workforce costs. One essential hospital expects an $80 million shortfall this year due to unbudgeted workforce costs. Another has seen its staffing costs increase 300 percent within six months. As policymakers discuss how to address current and future workforce shortages, America’s Essential Hospitals urges Congress to expand, protect and fund the health care workforce.