Gabbard-Backed Nursing Bills are One Step Closer to Becoming Law

June 27, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to address nursing shortages in Hawai‘i and across the country today passed the House Energy and Commerce’s Health Subcommittee. 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. The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) (H.R. 1676) would strengthen training, boost research, and provide incentives for nurses and healthcare workers to practice palliative and hospice care.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, said: “Nursing shortages across the country are straining care, especially in our rural and underserved communities, endangering patient health and well-being, and driving up healthcare costs. In the next two years alone, the U.S. is on track to face a shortage of roughly 200,000 nursing professionals. Reauthorizing federal funding for vital programs that provide nurses with training, education, and financial support will expand access to quality healthcare for our communities. I urge Congress to pass these bipartisan bills so we can build a 21st century healthcare workforce that meets the needs of our future.”

Mary Boland, Dean and Professor at the University of Hawai‘i Manoa School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene, said: "The Nursing Workforce Development Program (commonly known as Title VIII) funding is critical to nursing programs throughout the country. These funds support innovative approaches to addressing the social determinants of health that influence both the enrollment, retention, and graduation of students from underrepresented groups and the development of workforce for underserved communities. These competitive grants allowed the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa Nursing to provide students with trainee-ships to improve access to primary care; develop a master's Population Health curriculum; create a Vets to Nurses program; and most recently, expand the oral health workforce by creating an Expanded Function Dental Hygienist program to improve preventive oral services to children. Please increase the resources of this program!"

Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i’s President and CEO, said: “Nursing workforce development programs are essential to ensuring there are enough nurses to treat the patient population in Hawai‘i and the nation. We thank U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her leadership on this issue, and the House Nursing Caucus for supporting this legislation. Hawai‘i is one of the healthiest states in the nation, in part because of its well-trained and caring nursing workforce.”

Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of the Board of Directors for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, said: “Today’s consideration of the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act demonstrates Congress’ continued commitment to support nursing education, recruitment, retention, and faculty preparation, while increasing access to high-quality health care. We thank Representative Gabbard, the House Nursing Caucus Co-Chair, for her tireless dedication to championing nursing workforce development.”

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. The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support nurses across the United States. 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. Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce projects that the economy will create 1.6 million job openings for nurses through 2020, yet will be a nursing shortage of roughly 200,000 nursing professionals.

The Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) would require the Department of Health and Human Services to provide awards and grants to incentivize and improve training for nurses and healthcare professionals in palliative and hospice care. The legislation would also authorize funding for palliative care research at the National Institutes of Health and establish traineeships for individuals preparing for advanced education degrees in palliative care.


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