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Bipartisan Title VIII reauthorization bill introduced in Senate
On July 14, 2016, Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016 in bipartisan fashion.
ANA was instrumental in the introduction of this legislation, which would reauthorize, update, and improve nurse workforce programs under Title VIII, which supports nurses practicing in rural and medically underserved communities, advanced education nursing, diversity grants, National Nurse Service Corp, nurse faculty loan forgiveness, as well as geriatric education.
LHHS-Ed Appropriations Update
On June 9, 2016, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced its fiscal year 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS-ED) spending bill. The legislation passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support and now stands ready for full Senate consideration.
The Senate LHHS-ED appropriations bill included $270 million in discretionary funding cuts, but made some significant investments in key health funding priorities, including a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Importantly, the additional funding for NIH in the bill would translate to an increase of $5.48 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research for a total of $152 million.
The bill includes critical funding for nurse workforce development programs, including $229 million for Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. The investment in Title VIII programing represents level funding from FY16. Despite a request by the Nursing Community for an investment of $244 million, the bill, in the current budgetary environment, recognizes the importance of preserving this critical funding stream.
In the House, Subcommittee Chairman Cole (R-OK) is targeting the third week of June for action on the LHHS-ED appropriations bill. With election season on the horizon, Congress will be looking to recess for the summer by mid-July. The shortened legislative calendar could pose a challenge in passing a bicameral bill ahead September 30th , the end of the fiscal year. ANA will continue to work with key members of the appropriations committee and leadership in the House and Senate throughout the process to ensure nurse workforce development programs are appropriately funded.
President Obama’s final budget prompts praise and pause from the American Nurses Association
UPDATE (2/9/2016): The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes the many critical investments put forth in today's budget proposal and appreciates the President's continued commitment to strengthening our nation's health care system. ANA, however, maintains concerns over the framework’s inadequate support for vital nursing workforce development programs.
The President's budget recommends $229.5 million for Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act), representing a continuation of FY 2016 enacted levels. Title VIII provides critical federal grants for nursing schools and organizations to advance their educational programs, promote diversity in the field, repay loans for nursing students who work in facilities with critical shortages, and train geriatric nurses.
Title VIII funding plays a critically important role in recruiting the next generation of nurses, addressing the faculty shortages facing the profession, and ensuring we are building a highly trained workforce that can meet the challenges of a fast-growing and evolving health care system.
Despite concerns about Nursing Workforce Development Program funding, ANA appreciates the Administration's call for critical health care investments in other areas, including:
- $145.912 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research
- NIH would receive $1.8 billion in mandatory funds to support new research as part of a total budget of $33.1 billion for the agency. The proposed $1.8 billion mirrors mandatory spending levels advanced in the House-passed 21st Century Cures bill (H.R. 6), which would provide the National Institutes of Health with $8.75 billion a year over five years, or $1.75 billion a year in mandatory spending.
- $1 billion initiative to address opioid abuse, misuse, and overdose through expanded access to treatment. The proposal includes a pilot program that would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder treatment, where allowed by state law.
- 1.8 billion in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus
- "Cancer Moonshot", initiative aimed at better understanding the causes of cancer, developing new prevention strategies, improving early detection, diagnosis, and treatment and modernizing regulatory pathways.
- Increasing access to early intervention mental and behavioral health programs, expanding the behavioral health workforce and supporting suicide prevention.
- $469.7 million for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, an increase of $41.2 million from FY16.
While ANA recognizes the budgetary considerations that lie ahead for appropriators in Congress, we believe that bold efforts to cure cancer, stem the opioid epidemic, protect against the Zika virus, expand access to mental health services and other fundamental challenges are worthy investments. Tackling these important initiatives requires a strong, highly trained health workforce. With that in mind, ANA will continue to advocate for appropriate Title VIII funding levels.
About The Issue
Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs provide the largest source of federal funding for nursing education, offering financial support for nursing education programs, individual students, and nurses.
Title VIII programs bolster nursing education from entry-level preparation through graduate study. According to HRSA, between FY 2006 and 2012 alone, these programs provided loans, scholarships, and programmatic support to over 450,000 nursing students and nurses.