Health Care Reform Brings Workforce Challenges to States

Source: Elizabeth K. Kellar, HR News, Vol. 76 no. 12, December 2010
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While it is no surprise that the state workforce is aging, the new health reform law brings workload pressures to a new level. During the summer of 2010, the Center for State and Local Government Excellence had the opportunity to interview state officials in five states as part of a study for the Kaiser Family Foundation. What comes through loud and clear is that the people on the front lines are shouldering an intense workload with a level of professionalism and dedication that is inspiring. And the pressures are intensified by the dramatic shift in political leadership as new governors and state legislators take office this winter.

The five states selected for study were Connecticut, Michigan, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington. At the time of the interviews, all states were struggling to meet deadlines associated with the federal health care reform law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). They had to meet immediate requirements in the law, even as they planned for the challenges of expanding coverage through Medicaid and setting up new health insurance exchanges. Because of the ongoing fiscal pressures, their human resources were strained: the individuals on the front lines were working long hours and were worried about filling key positions that were vacant.

The full report, Health Reform and State Workforce Challenges: An Early Look at Five States, is available online. It includes details of the interviews of public and community health agency heads, insurance commissioners, Medicaid administrators, finance directors, leaders of health reform cabinets, and health policy experts.

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