Newswise — WASHINGTON, DC – February 13, 2018 – President Trump released the Administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget yesterday, which proposes sweeping cuts to certain federal programs within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is gravely concerned about the impact these cuts would have on America's progress in educating the health professions workforce to deliver evidence-based care, as this denotes an historic shift away from critical investments in the academic and healthcare infrastructure.
For example, $145 million would be eliminated from the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs, administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration, which translates to a nearly 64% cut. The sole Title VIII program that would be preserved is the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program, funded at $83 million.
"Cuts of this magnitude do not align with academic nursing's mission to prepare a highly-educated nursing workforce. Our nursing schools rely on funding streams such as Title VIII to ensure patients have access to quality care," said Dr. Juliann Sebastian, Chair of AACN's Board of Directors.
In the proposed budget, federally subsidized student loans are targeted for elimination as is the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Certain repayment programs would be consolidated, thus narrowing choices for student borrowers.
"The proposed reductions to programs within the Department of Education would place significant strain on students, families, and academic institutions. Nursing is not immune to what would result in diminished financial support for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as our faculty and programs," said Dr. Deborah Trautman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AACN.
Congress and the Administration continue to address the sustainability of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the budget proposes consolidating certain research agencies into NIH, such as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Overall, the greater research community is concerned about the ability to ensure meaningful growth to spur innovation and cures. To this end, AACN is concerned about the proposed decrease to the National Institute of Nursing Research.
AACN commends the addition of $10 billion to address the opioid crisis and mental health across federal departments and agencies, such as HHS and Veterans Affairs–a top priority in this Administration and for the association. AACN pledges to work with Congress to restore funding for nursing workforce, research, and education programs in FY 2019 and beyond.