October 01, 2009

Gillibrand Continues Efforts To Address Nursing Shortage

Pushes New Legislation To Expand Nation’s Health Care Workforce, Add More Nursing School Faculty

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is pushing new legislation this week to address the nursing shortage in New York and across the country. According to a Gillibrand report in May, New York State will need nearly 106,000 additional nurses by 2020. Senator Gillibrand joined the Medicare Graduate Nurses Education Act, which would help expand the nurse workforce and vocational nursing faculty by making Medicare reimbursement funds available to teaching hospitals.

"As we work to fix health care, we must also address our nursing shortage," Senator Gillibrand said. "This legislation would provide training hospitals with the tools and resources needed to ensure our nursing workforce can meet the health care challenges of the twenty first century. Nursing institutions across the country lack the funding, facilities, faculty and space needed to train the next generations of nurses. It is critical that we continue to attract new nurses to provide quality care to our families."

The Medicare Graduate Nurses Education Act would allow hospitals with graduate nursing education programs to receive Medicare funding. These programs would facilitate registered nurses to take graduate level courses toward becoming clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, and certified nurse midwives.  These categories fill primary care workforce shortages in underserved communities.  The legislation would provide on-the-job training for nurses in both hospital and community-based practice- or clinic settings. 

In May, Senator Gillibrand released a plan to address the nursing shortage, including:

1.  Increasing Nursing Faculty.  Nursing faculty salary can be as much as 15 percent less than practicing nurses.  The Nurses' Higher Education Loan Repayment (HEAL) Act would establish parity between nursing faculty and their students by offering full repayment on graduate degree loan debt assumed by nursing educators.  

2.  Increasing Spots at Nursing Schools.  The Nurse Education, Expansion and Development Act would provide grants to nursing schools to increase the numbers of faculty.

3. Incentivizing Nurse Practitioners in Underserved Areas.  Earlier this year, Senator Gillibrand helped pass President Obama's Economic Recovery plan, which included $300 million to the National Health Service Corps to recruit nurses to work in underserved areas.

4.  Investing in Long Term Development of the Nursing Workforce.  After flat funding in the previous Administration, Senator Gillibrand is working to secure additional funding for Nursing Workforce Development (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act). 

Senator Gillibrand's complete plan can be viewed here.