UPDATE: Since this blog was posted, Congress passed a new continuing resolution that funds the first four appropriations bills (Ag-FDA, Energy-Water, MilCon-VA, and T-HUD) until March 1 and the remaining eight bills (including Labor-HHS) until March 8.
The last quarter of 2023 was a doozy in Congress. Speaker McCarthy (R-CA) was removed by his own caucus and replaced with Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), taking weeks out of the Congressional schedule. It happened because conservatives in his own party didn’t think Mr. McCarthy had negotiated tough enough on the debt limit deal with the Biden Administration. To keep the government from shutting down, Speaker Johnson negotiated a 2-step continuing resolution with government funding for certain agencies expiring on January 19 and funding for others ending on February 2. The February 2 deadline applies to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which oversees federal agencies and programs that are relevant to the nursing profession.
As leaders in both chambers continue to negotiate government spending, ANA will continue to advocate for robust funding for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Program and the Minority Fellowship Program. We have held several meetings with Congressional staff and worked with coalition partners to ensure the best possible outcome for nurses and patients.
ANA Responds to Congressional Request Relating to Rural Health Access to Care
In October, ANA submitted a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee in response to a request for information on how Congress can improve healthcare in rural and underserved areas. The committee sought comments on several topic areas, including how Congress can revitalize the healthcare workforce and advance innovative care models and technology. In its letter, ANA called on Congress to invest in education and training for nurses, fund mobile health units, and expand home visiting programs that operate in rural and medically underserved communities. The letter also urged lawmakers to support legislative proposals that remove barriers to in-person and telemedicine services for patients in these settings.
Emerging Nurse Leaders go to Capitol Hill to Advocate on Nursing Priorities
Prior to Halloween, ANA convened its American Nurses Advocacy Institute (ANAI) in the nation’s capital. This event gave emerging nurse leaders from 21 states an opportunity to meet with their congressional lawmakers and nursing colleagues to discuss critical issues for the nursing community. Participants received federal legislative and regulatory updates from ANA staff, engaged in open dialogue about nursing priorities, and learned what they can expect while meeting with congressional offices. Then, nurse advocates embarked on Capitol Hill to meet with their lawmakers and staff to advocate for Title XIII appropriations funding to rebuild the nursing workforce, the Improving Care and Access to Nurses (ICAN) Act (H.R. 2713/S. 2418) to remove existing barriers to care of APRNs, and the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 2663/S. 1176) to address workplace violence in healthcare settings.
ANA Endorses Federal Legislation Establishing Minimum Staffing Standards
In November, ANA formally endorsed the Nurse Staffing Standards for Hospital Patient Safety and Quality Care Act (H.R. 2530 and S. 1113). This bill would establish minimum nurse-to-patient ratios for every hospital, examine best practices for nurse staffing, and provide whistleblower protections for nurses who choose to advocate for the safety of their patients. In its press release, ANA stressed that the adoption of safe staffing levels is just one way to address work environment issues that also include workplace violence, mandatory overtime, and reimbursement/compensation issues.
ANA Participates in Healthcare Workforce Roundtable on Capitol Hill
Prior to the holiday break, ANA participated in a healthcare workforce roundtable event hosted by Representatives Terri Sewell (D-AL) and Kathy Manning (D-NC). This event brought representatives from several healthcare associations together to discuss workforce challenges facing the healthcare sector and potential solutions. In her testimony, ANA’s Dr. Katie Boston-Leary called on lawmakers to support passage of legislation that would address workplace violence, establish safe staffing levels, prohibit mandatory overtime for nurses, address the nurse faculty shortage, and invest in training and education for new nurses.
New Bill to Address Nursing Faculty Shortage Introduced
In September, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Nurse Faculty Shortage Reduction Act (S. 2815). ANA worked with these offices to write and introduce the bill for several months. At the time of publication, the bill was just introduced in the House with bipartisan support by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). If passed, the bill would establish a 5-year demonstration project that would allow accredited schools of nursing to apply for grants to supplement the difference between what they can pay nurse faculty and what nurses with similar education and experience could expect to earn in critical care settings in those same geographic areas. The shortage of nursing faculty is one of the largest chokeholds on accepting more nursing students into nursing schools. A companion bill was previously introduced in the Senate.