AONE Advocacy Bulletin - June 2014

Federal Update

Senate Subcomittee Approves LHHS Spending Bill

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 appropriations bill, providing $156.77 billion in base discretionary budget authority for LLHS departments, the same as the (FY) 2014 level. According to the Coalition for Health Funding, the overall proposed funding level for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs is $236.29 million (nearly a 6 percent increase over (FY) 2014 levels) and $142.21 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) within the National Institutes of Health. It is unknown when the full committee plans to markup the bill. AONE, as part of the Nursing Community, sent a letter to Senate Appropriations Chair Tom Harkin requesting $251 million in funding for Title VIII, $150 million for NINR and $20 million for the Nurse-Managed Health Clinics. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the LLHS spending bill in coming weeks. Urge your senator on the Appropriations Committee to fully fund these vital nursing programs.

Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program Legislation Introduced

On June 19, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the Hospital Readmissions Program Accuracy and Accountability Act, AONE and AHA supported legislation, which seeks to require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to make changes to its Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program to ensure hospitals caring for vulnerable patients are not unfairly penalized. Specifically, the bill would require CMS to adjust hospital performance by using census tract data to account for socioeconomic factors, such as income and education level. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) are sponsors of the bill. Please contact your senators and urge them to co-sponsor this important legislation. See the AHA Action Alert for more details.

CNOs needed to testify on supervision policy for outpatient services

Chief nursing officers are needed to identify specific outpatient therapeutic services requiring only general supervision and to request an opportunity to provide testimony before the panel. On Aug. 25-26, the Advisory Panel on Hospital Outpatient Payment, which advises CMS regarding the appropriate level of supervision for hospital outpatient therapeutic services, will hear testimony from hospital and health system leaders. See the AHA's June 18 Action Alert for more details on how you can submit a presentation and testify at the upcoming meeting.

House and Senate pass bills to address VA issues

In response to growing concerns regarding wait times experienced by veterans seeking health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the House of Representatives voted 421-0 (with 11 members abstaining) to approve the Veterans Access to Care Act (H.R. 4810). Among other provisions, the bill seeks to require the VA to offer non-VA care at the department's expense to any enrolled veteran who cannot get an appointment within VA wait-time goals or who lives more than 40 miles from a VA medical facility. Any care provided by a non-department facility not under an existing VA contract would be reimbursed at the rate set by the VA, Tricare or Medicare, whichever is greatest. The access portions of the bill would sunset two years after enactment. The Senate quickly passed a bipartisan bill by a 93-3 vote addressing the same issue. According to Roll Call, the measure closely resembles the House-passed bill, prompting optimism among lawmakers a compromise version could be on its way soon to President Barack Obama for his signature. 

Legislative Basics: Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee

The Senate Committee Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) has jurisdiction over most of the agencies, institutes, and programs of the Department of Health and Human Services, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Administration on Aging and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The HELP Committee is also concerned with ensuring America has a highly skilled workforce, prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st Century. Learn more about the other committees of jurisdiction over health care at AONE Advocacy. (United States Senate HELP Committee Website, 6/23/2014)

Legislator Spotlight: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) twitter @SenAlexander

First elected to Congress in 2003, Lamar Alexander is ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee and ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. Additionally, he sits on the Rules and Administration Committee. Alexander was governor of Tennessee, U.S. Education secretary, president of the University of Tennessee and a presidential hopeful.  On the HELP Committee, Alexander has been a leader in the effort to increase research, education and intervention activities related to premature births, newborn death, and disability caused by prematurity. He cosponsored The PREEMIE Act reauthorization bill, the AONE-supported legislation, was passed by the Senate in 2012. Alexander has championed legislation to ensure drugs and medical devices are specifically tested, labeled and proven to be safe and effective for children. He has worked to move innovative medical devices to market more quickly and safely. He voted against the Affordable Care Act and has encouraged instead passing immediate insurance reforms and going step-by-step to reduce health care costs. Alexander is a classical and country pianist and the author of seven books. (National Journal Almanac of American Politics, 2014 Edition)  

Helpful Advocacy Hint: Emailing Your Legislator

Email remains one of the best ways to contact your legislator. It is immediate and legislative staff know you are a resident of the district, thanks to the congressional email form system legislators use to filter messages to legislators. Congressional staffs deal with large volumes of email so it is important to be concise. Confine yourself to one or two issues and explain your position clearly. Legislators want to hear how an issue impacts their constituents. Personalize your message by using real-life examples to illustrate how an issue impacts your community. If the issue is complicated, attach additional material and your telephone number so the staff can call you if additional information is needed. Visit AONE Advocacy for tips on building an effective relationship with your legislators.

Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Title VIII

The 50th anniversary of Title VIII, Nursing Workforce Development Programs, provides an opportunity to draw attention to the importance of adequately funding these programs vital to the health of our nation. The Nursing Community is using this milestone celebration to urge Congress and the administration to fund these critical programs at $251 million in FY 2015. As the president and congress look for ways to cut costs, it is paramount to explain the critical role of nurses in the delivery of health care services and the importance of investing in the nursing workforce of tomorrow.

Are you a recipient of a loan or scholarship under this program? Please share your story about how Title VIII helped you become a registered nurse, nursing specialist or other member of the health care team.

Election Central

View the results of yesterday's key House and Senate primaries.

Political Trivia

Fourteen vice presidents have been president of the United States. Only two of these vice presidents have been elected president and reelected. Who are they?

  1. Martin Van Buren and Andrew Johnson
  2. Harry S. Truman and George H. W. Bush
  3. Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon

Visit AONE Advocacy to see the answer.