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Authors

John J. Greene

Abstract

The 1976 Health Professions Educational Assistance Act is a new congressional effort to promote the rational development, distribution, and utilization of the health professions through financial incentives. The Act represents a compromise solution to the issues affecting the quality, quantity and distribution of health manpower. It targets the four major problems of the current system: (1) the shortage of health professionals; (2) the geographic maldistribution of health manpower; (3) the specialty maldistribution of physicians and dentists; and (4) the influx of foreign medical graduates into the United States. This comment examines the effectiveness of past legislative responses to these issues and considers the provisions of the new law that attempt to resolve them. The comment discusses various aspects of the 1976 Act such as: (1) its amendments to the direct federal loan program for students in health profession schools; (2) the substantial increases in the authorization of funding to programs such as the National Health Service Corps (NHSC); (3) requirements placed on health profession schools for capitation support; and (4) enlargement of the existing Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program. The comment suggests that immense public pressure for extensive federal control of the nation's health manpower education programs will arise unless the geographic and specialty maldistribution of health professionals improves upon the 1976 Act's expiration in 1980.

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