Governor Walker announces grant to develop health care workforce - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Governor Walker announces grant to develop health care workforce

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Altoona (WQOW) - Governor Scott Walker (R-WI) announced the launch of the Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant at Grace Lutheran Communities in Altoona on Monday.

Walker said the state is offering $3-million in grants for health science, health care and related occupations. He said the grant could help fill the health care labor gap in Wisconsin.

"We have what is called the 'silver tsunami,'" Bryan Bessa, human resource director for Grace Lutheran Communities, said. "We've got people who are reaching or past retirement age who are going to need the services that we provide. On top of that, our next to generations combined aren't as large as the baby boomers, so we have a few things working against being able to adequately staff our buildings."

Bessa said the first round of grants Grace Lutheran Communities received helped them train more than 100 CNAs in the Chippewa Valley. Amelia Flaskrud, 18, was a part of the grant program, which paid for her tuition. She is now a CNA at American Lutheran Home in Mondovi, something she never imagined she could do. 

"I come from a family that is actually not rich," Flaskrud said. "The CNA program has a lot of money into it. This gave me an opportunity that I never thought was possible, especially in the small town of Mondovi. It was a dream come true."

The worker training grants for Wisconsin health science, health care and related occupations are due May 1. 

With health care comes concern for coverage, and now that the American Health Care Act was withdrawn, Walker said he hoped they can move forward with a plan to repeal, replace and reform the Affordable Care Act within the next two years. 

"When the Congressional Budget Office came out, they said that if nothing happens, if Obamacare continues, 28 million Americans will lose access to their healthcare coverage under the current Obamacare," Walker said. "That is over the next decade, and to me, that is just unacceptable."

Walker said congress will likely shift their focus to tax reform, which he said is needed to help fuel the economic recovery in the country. 

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