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Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address Nursing Shortage

January 23, 2019, 10:34 AM HST
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Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) and Dave Joyce (Ohio-14), co-chairs of the House Nursing Caucus,  introduced bipartisan legislation on Jan. 23, 2019, to address the nursing shortage in Hawai‘i and across the country.

The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States.

“Too often, nurses are unsung heroes who provide life-saving care to our communities in the most trying and stressful times,” Rep. Gabbard. “As our country faces an aging population, an increase in chronic diseases, an ever-worsening opioid epidemic, and so much more, our healthcare workers must have the training and support needed to care for our people. Our bipartisan legislation will help ensure that nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country have the education, training and support they need to continue their service.”

“As the proud husband of a nurse and co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, I know that nurses are truly the backbone of our nation’s health care system,” said Rep. Dave Joyce. “I’m proud to join Rep. Gabbard in re-introducing this bipartisan legislation to address our nation’s pending nursing shortage and ensuring those who are interested in pursuing a career in nursing have access to the high-quality education and training opportunities necessary to do so.”

“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) commends the bipartisan effort to support Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization, which is critical to preparing a strong nursing workforce able to address the healthcare needs of our nation,” said Dr. Ann Cary, chair of the AACN Board of Directors.

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“Reauthorization of the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs is essential to the health of the nation since nurses practice in all settings in all corners of the country,” said AACN President and CEO Deborah Trautman. “AACN looks forward to working with our champions on Capitol Hill to advance this legislation and ensure access to lifesaving and life-sustaining services.”

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Rep. Gabbard has championed legislation that empowers the nation’s nurses, including Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act, the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act, and the Health Care Workplace Violence Prevention Act. 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.

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