American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)

House Passage of Key Nursing Legislation Ensures Patient Access to Trusted Healthcare Specialists, including Nurse Anesthetists and other APRNs

Newswise — PARK RIDGE, ILLINOIS—The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) applauds the House of Representatives for its vision and decisiveness in acting to address a looming nursing shortage by passing the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (HR 959), which was last reauthorized in 2010.

“Speaking on behalf of the nation’s 52,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs), the action taken today by the House of Representatives to ensure the continuation of nursing workforce development programs and patient access to the essential care of nurses across all specialties is of paramount importance,” said Bruce Weiner, DNP, MSNA, CRNA, president of the AANA. “Research studies and public interest polls have long shown how much patients trust the nursing profession to care for them and advocate for their best interests in all healthcare settings. Moving to sustain the profession through this act was the wisest move the House could have made today.”

The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act would reauthorize the Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) through FY 2022.

Additionally, the legislation includes four technical changes. In particular, it identifies and defines clinical nurse specialists, highlights the clinical nurse leader role, and adds the definition of nurse-managed health clinics. It was introduced in the House on Feb. 7, 2017, by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Kathy Castor (D-FL).

“Our nation will soon face a nursing shortage, so we need to do all we can to make sure those who are interested in this valued career path have access to high-quality education opportunities,” said Joyce. “As the husband of a nurse and co-chair of the Congressional Nursing Caucus, I know the amount of dedication, care, and support nurses put into their daily task of caring for every patient. I am thankful for the incredible bipartisan support this bill has received on behalf of our nation’s nurses.”

For over 50 years, the programs supported under Title VIII have helped to build the supply and distribution of qualified nurses to meet the nation’s healthcare needs. These programs bolster nursing education at all levels, especially as the growth of the healthcare industry coupled with a growing and aging population has created increased demand for nurses across the country.

“It is imperative that these programs continue to thrive and provide support for institutions that educate and train future nurses who are essential to ensure the demand for nursing care is met,” said Weiner in reference to a recent U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report which projects a shortage of nurses across the United States by 2030. The report reveals that the deficit in some states could exceed 10,000 nurses. The nursing shortage is exacerbated by an aging nursing workforce and the corresponding wave of retirements anticipated in coming years.

Title VIII funding for Nursing Workforce Development enables many students to use their nursing education to move to and serve in rural and medically underserved areas. In particular, CRNAs play a pivotal role in ensuring access to care for patients living in those parts of the country.

“Title VIII provides funding to a number of very important nursing workforce development programs including Advanced Nursing Education, which contains the Nurse Anesthesia Traineeship funding as well as the National Nurse Service Corps. These programs incentivize nurses to practice in underserved areas,” said Weiner. “In many rural and underserved counties across America, CRNAs are the only anesthesia providers. Maintaining the availability of these services and ensuring a continuing flow of new CRNAs and nurses to our most vulnerable and underserved communities is critically important."

"We look forward to the U.S. Senate following the House’s lead and passing this critical legislation,” Weiner added.

About the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
Founded in 1931 and located in Park Ridge, Ill., and Washington, D.C., the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) is the professional organization representing more than 52,000 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and student registered nurse anesthetists across the United States. As advanced practice registered nurses, CRNAs are anesthesia experts who administer more than 43 million anesthetics to patients in the United States each year and are the primary providers of anesthesia care in rural America. In some states, CRNAs are the sole anesthesia professionals in nearly 100 percent of rural hospitals. For more information, visit www.aana.com and www.future-of-anesthesia-care-today.com.

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