As the federal government seeks to meaningfully reform the health care system, it will be critical that reform go beyond ensuring coverage for the uninsured. Change is needed in the way health care is delivered. The Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) believes that a wholesale reinvestment in the primary care workforce, including the social work profession, must be a top priority if the nation is going to be successful in achieving results for its citizens. A holistic approach, which includes health promotion and prevention, is needed. The health care workforce of the future will require a team of service providers—doctors, social workers, nurses, therapists and counselors—equipped with a skill set that enables inter-professional practice of health care in a variety of settings. As a key component of the health care team, social work has a role to play at all stages of care and in a variety of settings, such as in the community as well as in hospitals and health care centers.
As health care reform is debated and comprehensive legislation is drafted this year, CSWE urges Congress and the Obama Administration to recognize the role that social work and the other health professions play in keeping Americans healthy and productive. This will be especially critical should the nation move towards a system of universal health care coverage. Below are CSWE’s principles for health care reform as it relates to achieving a robust and sustainable workforce capable of meeting the nation’s needs.
The following pages include proposed legislative text that CSWE suggests be included in health care reform legislation. These bills—some current and some from previous congresses—would help to significantly enhance the social work workforce to meet the health care needs of the nation.