Bill to Address Nationwide Nursing Shortage Passes
Bipartisan legislation that was cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard to address nursing shortages in Hawai‘i and across the country unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday, July 23, 2018. The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959) would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in Hawai‘i and across the United States.
Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce projects that the United States will face a nursing shortage of roughly 200,000 nursing professionals by 2020.
Rep. Gabbard, Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, said: “Our nurses must have the quality training needed to respond to the needs of our community- from an aging population, to an increase in chronic diseases, to a worsening opioid epidemic, and more. But nursing shortages in Hawai‘i and across the country are putting patient health at risk and increasing healthcare costs. Our bipartisan legislation takes a vital step forward in providing our nurses with training, education, and financial support so they can serve the people in our communities.”
“Our nation will soon face a nursing shortage, so we need to do all we can to make sure those who are interested in this valued career path have access to high-quality education opportunities,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “As the husband of a nurse and co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, I know the amount of dedication, care, and support nurses put into their daily task of caring for every patient. I am thankful for the incredible bipartisan support this bill has received on behalf of our nation’s nurses.”
“Nurses work tirelessly on the front lines of patient care, and they are critical to the health and wellbeing of our communities,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, Vice Co-Chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus. “This bill will support nurses who pursue additional educational opportunities that will lead to more advancement and successful careers. I applaud the passage of this legislation and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Nursing Caucus in support of these important programs.”
“Today’s passage of the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act in the House of Representatives is a direct investment in the health and health care of our nation,” said Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “We applaud Representative Tulsi Gabbard for her leadership as Co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus for ensuring that nurses, faculty, and students have the resources they need to provide exceptional health care to all patients and within every community.”
On the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Thank you to my colleague Congressman Joyce, who has been a great leader on these issues relating to our nursing workforce. I appreciate working with you as co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, where we are able to bring these issues and challenges to light.
“We all know that nurses and caregivers are the heartbeat of our healthcare providers. Day in and day out, they provide life-saving care with empathy, compassion, and care in the most trying and stressful situations. But across the country, we continue to see nursing workforce shortages, especially in our rural and underserved communities, like many in my home state of Hawai‘i, where people on different islands are literally separated by a body of water, sometimes preventing them from getting the access to the care that they need.
“In the next two years alone, the United States is on track to face a shortage of nearly 200,000 nursing professionals. These shortages not only drive up the cost of healthcare for those most in need, but they actually endanger the well-being and care of our patients. As our healthcare system faces heightened and complex challenges, like an aging population, increase in chronic diseases, and ever-worsening opioid epidemic and so much more, our healthcare workers must have the training to address the needs of our communities.
“Re-authorizing federal funding for vital programs that provide nurses with training, education, and support will help grow our nursing workforce, both in my home state of Hawai‘i and across the country, and expand access to quality care for our children, our veterans, our seniors, and all of our communities. I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation and empower our nurses and healthcare professionals to continue serving and caring for the people in our communities.”
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard serves as Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus with Rep. David Joyce (OH-14). The congresswoman joined a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers to introduce Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959) in February of 2017. She has also supported the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act (H.R.5052) and the Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act (H.R. 5223). The congresswoman has also hosted a congressional briefing focused on the severe shortage of nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country.
The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act provides the largest source of federal funding for nursing education, offering financial support for education programs, individual students, and nurses. For five decades, these programs have helped build the supply and distribution of qualified nurses in all health care settings, from entry-level preparation through graduate study. According to the HRSA, these programs provided loans, scholarships, and programmatic support to over 450,000 nursing students and nurses between FY 2006 and 2012 alone.