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AACN Reacts to Funding for Nursing Education in the President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal

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Press Release
For Immediate Release

 AACN Reacts to Funding for Nursing Education in the
President's FY 2004 Budget Proposal

Level Funding Proposed for Nursing Despite Workforce and Faculty Shortages

WASHINGTON, DC, February 5, 2003 - Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) announced its support for $98 million in funding for nursing education programs included in President Bush's FY 2004 budget proposal. However, the association is disappointed that the President is recommending only level funding for nursing programs and directed no money to address the critical shortage of nursing faculty as authorized in the Nurse Reinvestment Act. Further, AACN is deeply concerned about the cuts to health professions programs and the impact this may have on access to health care.

"At a time when federal priorities are focused on a possible war with Iraq and homeland security, it is heartening to see the President acknowledge the need to address the nursing shortage and fund nursing education programs," said AACN President Kathleen Ann Long. "Though we are thankful to have been spared funding cuts, we are concerned that funding levels are still not set high enough given the magnitude of the nursing crisis and dire need for nursing school faculty."

The proposed $98 million to fund nursing education programs administered by the Department of Health and Human Services includes $72 million for basic workforce development and diversity enhancement programs and $26 million for advanced nursing education. "Since Advanced Education Nursing Grants support the majority of programs that prepare graduate-level nurses for faculty positions, AACN is very concerned that the proposed funding will further limit the available pool of nursing faculty and constrain efforts to adequately address the workforce shortage," added Dr. Long.

The President's budget includes $7 million for a newly authorized scholarship program, a provision of the recently enacted Nurse Reinvestment Act, which will help reduce the financial barrier to a nursing education. The budget also includes an increase of $24 million over existing funding for the National Health Service Corps, a federal program that provides scholarships for health care providers who agree to work in underserved rural and urban areas.

Also proposed in the President's budget is $27.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which includes a $5 million increase for the National Institute for Nursing Research. AACN commends this increase, but supports the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Funding in recommending a 10% funding increase for NIH in FY 2004.

Though nursing programs received level funding in the budget proposal, other Title VII health professions programs were completely eliminated. In FY 2003 the President proposed a $110 million cut in these programs and has proposed the same funding level for FY 2004. These dramatic cuts will diminish the health care workforce and impact the delivery of care to diverse, uninsured populations. AACN is also disappointed to see the proposed cut of $36.2 million from the Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students program and a funding target for the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality that is still $20 million below the FY 2002 level.

"We encourage congressional leaders to reassess the proposed cuts in Title VII programs and consider how the diminished funding will impact Americans most at-risk and in need of health care services," said Dr. Long.

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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 580 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. www.aacn.nche.edu.

CONTACT:

Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, ext. 231
rrosseter@aacn.nche.edu