Merkley, Burr Introduce Bipartisan Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced the bipartisan Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016, legislation to reauthorize, update and improve programs that help to grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States.

With many nurses retiring and baby boomers projected to increase the demand for medical care in the coming years, the nursing workforce in the United States is facing a critical juncture. To help meet these increasing needs, the Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016 would reauthorize and update the Nursing Workforce Development Programs under Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, which include programs that support and advance nursing education, practice, recruitment and retention.

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the critical role that nurses play in all types of medical care,” said Merkley. “Nurses are the heart of our health care system, and as our nation’s demand for health care services continues to rise through the coming decades, it will be essential that we recruit, train and support a robust nursing workforce. This bipartisan bill will help ensure that our federal nursing workforce policies are updated for the 21st century and can help to meet that demand.”

“Nurses play a pivotal role in providing quality care for Americans day in and day out,” said Senator Burr. “These dedicated individuals provide care and compassion with incredible grace, helping to keep Americans healthy and offering comfort in our most challenging hours.  Nurses are there for us when we need them because of the training and preparation supported by the Title VIII nursing programs.  I am proud to partner with Senator Merkley to reauthorize the Title VIII nursing programs. Our legislation will ensure that our nation’s nursing workforce is prepared to meet the needs of patients in North Carolina and across our nation and it supports the life-saving work nurses do each and every day.”

Nurses and nurse educators play a critical role in delivering and training individuals to provide compassionate and quality care, often during Americans’ greatest hours of need. The Title VIII programs reauthorized and updated in this legislation seek to support the training and education of individuals in the nursing profession in order to sustain a robust nursing pipeline and ensure our nation has the workforce necessary to meet our growing healthcare needs.

Title VIII programs are designed to address specific challenges in meeting our nation’s nursing workforce demands. These programs support and advance nursing education, practice, recruitment, and retention so that we have a nursing workforce prepared to meet Americans’ health care needs now and in the future, including in rural and medically underserved communities, which can face unique challenges in providing quality and timely care to the individuals living in these communities.

Title VIII includes a broad range of programs that support nursing education from entry-level preparation through graduate study, including grants, loans and scholarships to support nurses-in-training, nurse educators and educational institutions that train nurses. Between 2006 and 2013 alone, Title VIII supported more than 520,000 nurses and nursing students, as well as numerous academic nursing institutions and healthcare facilities.

The Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016 would reauthorize the Title VIII nursing workforce programs through Fiscal Year 2021, including programs specifically designed to support training and educating individuals to provide care for seniors. This bipartisan bill also updates the Title VIII programs to ensure that they reflect the current nursing workforce needs and opportunities by:

·       Adding nurse-managed health clinics as entities eligible to receive Title VIII funding;

·       Updating the Title VIII programs to reflect the role of clinical nurse specialists and such programs as part of advanced education nursing; and

·       Streamlining and modernizing the Nurse Education, Practice, Quality, and Retention funding opportunities.

The Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2016 is supported by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and 51 national nursing organizations.