Reform Update: Threat to Service Corps funding endangers primary-care efforts, groups say

The National Health Service Corps has been a key program in offering access to primary care in rural and underserved areas since its establishment in 1972. 

President Barack Obama's 2009 stimulus package and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act increased funding for the program, which repays medical education loans for providers working in underserved areas, most at federally qualified community health centers.

More than 9,200 NHSC physicians, nurses, dentists, and behavioral health professionals serve nearly 9.7 million patients at 4,900 healthcare facilities nationwide, and there are another 1,100 students and residents in training participating in the program. Primary-care services delivered by NHSC providers at community health centers are a cornerstone of expanded healthcare coverage and access under the healthcare reform law, since many Americans who are newly covered under exchange plans and Medicaid otherwise might not be able to get access to primary-care providers. 

The stimulus package and the ACA expanded the NHSC by $1.8 billion over five years, resulting in an estimated increase of 18,000 providers by 2015.

Go to top