Letter from ANNA and other nursing organizations to Senate Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies requesting a funding level of at least $156 million for Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII, Public Health Service Act...

November 1, 2005

The Honorable Arlen Specter
Chairman
Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Specter and Ranking Member Harkin:

As you work to finalize FY 2006 funding, we urge you to make an increased investment in the Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII, Public Health Service Act) administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Specifically, we support a funding level of at least $156 million for Title VIII in the final FY 2006 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act. Title VIII programs provide the principal financial support for nursing workforce development and education.

Nurses are the primary source of care and support for patients at the most vulnerable points in their lives. Nearly every person's health care experience involves a Registered Nurse. As a result, a sufficient supply of nurses is critical in providing our Nation’s population with quality health care. The demand for nurses is expected to grow in the near future. The U.S. Department of Labor currently projects a 21% increase in the need for nurses nationwide from 1998 to 2008, compared with a 14% increase for all other occupations. This means that health care facilities will need to fill more than 1.1 million registered nurse job openings by 2012 to accommodate growing patient needs and to replace retiring nurses.

Nurses are critical first responders to natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; they are also key to avian flu preparedness. Congress has spent considerable time and resources improving our preparedness, but our efforts cannot succeed if there is a shortage of key health care personnel, especially nurses. Now is not the time to under fund Nursing Workforce Development programs.

Current funding levels fail to meet the growing need for nurses. In fiscal year 2004, HRSA was forced to turn away 82% of the applicants for the Nurse Education Loan Repayment Program (NELRP), and 98% of the applicants for the Nursing Scholarship program due to lack of adequate funding. These much-needed programs are used to direct RNs into areas with the greatest need – including community health centers, disproportionate share hospitals, and departments of public health.

 Given adequate resources, Title VIII programs could attract more students into nursing programs, increase the supply of nursing faculty, update curricula, provide assistance to students to enable them to complete nursing studies, and ensure the collection and analysis of current nursing workforce data.Your support for $156 million in FY 2006 Title VIII funding is vital to maintaining and improving the health of our nation.  Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request and please know that we stand ready to work with you and your colleagues as the FY 2006 appropriations process comes to a close. 

Sincerely,

American Nephrology Nurses’ Association
American Nurses Association
Association of periOperative Registered Nurses
Association of Rehabilitation Nurses
Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric & Neonatal Nurses
Emergency Nurses Association
National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists
Oncology Nursing Society
Wound, Ostomy & Continence Nurses Society