Health IT expansion to create "tens of thousands" of jobs
Government grants like the $220 million awarded Tuesday to 15 Beacon Communities – models for the use of healthcare information technology – will create "tens of thousands" of new jobs in an up-and-coming sector, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
David Blumenthal, MD, the nation's health IT coordinator, and Jared Bernstein, chief economist to Vice President Joseph Biden, joined Sebelius Tuesday on a conference call following the announcement that named the 15 Beacon Communities that would receive awards from the government program.
The communities, from Maine to Hawaii, were among 137 applicants.
Sebelius said the work entailed in the Beacon Community health IT projects across the country would create "dozens of well paying jobs" in each of the communities.
Everyone wants to hear, "You're hired," said Bernstein. The Beacon Community program, he said would bring that message to more than 1,000 people, and the larger investment in healthcare IT to tens of thousands.
"These jobs are particularly important," Bernstein added. Besides supporting a burgeoning healthcare IT industry and helping to transform the country's healthcare system, other new jobs would help support clean energy, grid modernization and nuclear power.
The jobs would create a new "footprint for new domestic industries for tomorrow," Bernstein said, "building new sectors of out economy."
The Beacon projects are expected to initially create jobs in each community paying an average of $70,000 per year for a total of 1,100 jobs up-front, while accelerating development of a nationwide health IT infrastructure that will eventually employ tens of thousands of Americans, according to the White House press release.
Another $30 million is available to fund additional Beacon Community awards, Sebelius said. An announcement to apply will be made in the near future. The awards are part of a $100 billion federal investment in science, innovation and technology under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).