The Allied Health Workforce Diversity Act of 2019, sponsored by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) was introduced on July 9, 2019. To recap, this legislation would make scholarships and stipends available to students underrepresented in the professions of audiology, speech-language pathology, occupational therapy and physical therapy (including those who are racial or ethnic minorities) or students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Eligible students must also have a financial need for assistance and be enrolled in a qualifying professional program.The American Academy of Audiology is included in the list of professional organizations able to make recommendations about the awarding of these resources and educational programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) are among the qualifying educational programs. This bill would authorize the distribution of five million dollars per year for five years.
On July 11, 2019, the text of this bill was amended into HR 2781—The EMPOWER for Health Act of 2019—during a legislative markup in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. On July 17, 2019, HR 2781 as amended was approved by the full Energy and Commerce Committee and will now advance to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives.