WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, along with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), teamed up with Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE-AL) and Congresswoman Young Kim (R-CA-39) to introduce the National Nursing Workforce Center Act. The bipartisan and bicameral National Nursing Workforce Center Act would establish a 3-year pilot program through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support state-based nursing workforce centers. The legislation would also broaden HRSA’s authority to establish Health Workforce Research Centers on any program under the Public Health Service Act and give HRSA clear authority to establish a nursing focused research and technical assistance center under the Health Workforce Research Center Program.
“As the husband of a nurse, I know just how important nurses are to patients, and how their support and advocacy can make a world of difference at some of the most difficult and joyous moments of people’s lives,” said Senator Merkley. “This bill will help establish and support local nursing initiatives and workforce centers across the country—like the one we already have here in Oregon—to apply a local approach to the current nursing workforce crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bipartisan bill passed.”
“Nurses play a crucial role in providing accessible, high-quality care to Americans. Resolving existing nursing workforce challenges, which have been compounded by the pandemic, the increased demand for health care services, and the aging workforce, requires innovative approaches that support and strengthen every aspect of the nursing workforce pipeline,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m proud to co-introduce the bipartisan National Nursing Workforce Center Act that will enhance collaboration and coordination, enabling state and local experts to identify and address unique challenges to increase the resiliency of the nursing workforce.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a nation-wide shortage of healthcare workers including registered nurses. As an integral part of our healthcare system, we must do all we can to support the recruiting and retention of nurses across the country – the quality of care depends on it,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “That’s why I am proud to introduce the National Nursing Workforce Center Act, a bipartisan & bicameral piece of legislation that will create a pilot program to establish state-based nursing workforce centers to focus on the education and training of nurses. This legislation provides a tangible solution to the ongoing nurse shortage while supporting our current nursing workforce and I’m hopeful Congress will work to pass this legislation as quickly as possible.”
“Our nurses went above and beyond to care for Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and are now suffering from burnout, exhaustion and unsustainable schedules due to the nursing workforce shortage. Nurses play a vital role in protecting public health and deserve our full support,” said Rep. Young Kim. “The National Nursing Workforce Center Act will take important, targeted steps to help stabilize and strengthen our nursing workforce. I am proud to work with Rep. Blunt Rochester and Senators Tillis and Merkley on this bipartisan, bicameral effort and will always stand with our heroes in nursing and the patients they support.”
“Nursing workforce centers, like the Oregon Center for Nursing, are critical to informing policy-makers, educators, and employers on nursing workforce issues specific to individual states. They provide on-the-ground expertise interpreting national and state-level nursing workforce data, and recommending specific solutions for local communities. The National Nursing Workforce Center Act will help states implement and strengthen nursing workforce centers, creating a rich tapestry of experts committed to making long-term, meaningful solutions to nursing workforce issues. The need for this act is essential, especially in these times of nursing workforce instability.” – Jana Bitton, MPA, Executive Director, Oregon Center for Nursing
“The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers is excited about the introduction of the National Nursing Workforce Center Act. This will provide critical funding to support and solidify the foundation of existing nursing workforce centers while providing funding for states without a center to create one. This act would provide technical assistance to smaller and new nursing workforce centers and build a strong network of experts on state-level nursing workforce issues and solutions. Nursing workforce centers serve as hubs to advance nursing education, practice, leadership, and workforce development at state and local levels using data-driven approaches.” – Lanelle Weems, President, National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers
“The Delaware Nurses Association applauds the development and introduction of the National Nursing Workforce Center Act of 2022. Our nation has experienced cyclical nursing workforce challenges for decades, none as pronounced and impactful as today’s challenges. Our nation’s nurses, and those served by us, need enhanced leadership and support to understand and transform our workforce challenges. Nurses remain the largest sector of the nation’s licensed health care workforce and the most trusted, as rated by Americans for over 20 years. The National Nursing Workforce Center Act of 2022 is a novel and innovative approach to creating new and better support for existing state nursing workforce centers that generate impact. With the structure and support provided by this legislation, state nursing workforce centers in the pilot program will be the collaborating, coordinating, leading and impactful entities in their states to stabilize, diversify and grow the nursing workforce.” – Christopher E. Otto, MSN, RN, CHFN, PCCN, CCRN, Executive Director, Delaware Nurses Association
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a national shortage of registered nurses, making it critical that policymakers invest in all segments of the nursing workforce: from education and training to retention and leadership development. An important component of this is also having complete, national, standardized data to understand where public policy can help alleviate these shortages. An estimated 500,000 nurses plan to leave the bedside by the end of 2022—creating a shortage of 1.1 million nurses—just as the population of older people, who may require more medical services for complex medical conditions, begins to increase dramatically.
The National Nursing Workforce Center Act would help address the shortage by:
- Establishing a fully-offset, sustainable pilot grant program through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support state-based nursing workforce centers;
- Broadening HRSA’s authority to establish Health Workforce Research Centers on any program under the Public Health Service Act, rather than just Title VII programs authorized under current statute;
- Giving HRSA clear authority and a mandate to focus on nursing issues by requiring the agency to establish a nursing focused research and technical assistance center under the Health Workforce Research Center Program.
- Requiring reports assessing this public-private partnership and if and how it should be expanded nationwide.
A one-pager of the bill can be found here.