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AACN President Presents Testimony on New Legislation Offered in Response to the National Conversation on Healthcare Reform

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Press Release  
For Immediate Release

AACN President Presents Testimony on New Legislation Offered in
Response to the National Conversation on Healthcare Reform

AACN Invited as the Sole National Nursing Organization to Testify
Before the Senate HELP Committee

WASHINGTON, DC, June 12, 2009 - Today, Dr. Fay Raines, President of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), presented testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee on new legislation developed following the national dialogue on healthcare reform.  Dr. Raines comments about the newly introduced Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 focused on the need to strengthen support for nursing schools and other health professions programs, enhance initiatives to prepare more nurse faculty, and secure opportunities for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) to serve as primary care providers. AACN was the only nursing organization asked to provide testimony on this momentous piece of legislation at hearings held June 11-12, 2009 in Washington, DC.

The Affordable Health Choices Act was released to the public on June 9, 2009 and addresses many of the themes emerging out of the national discussions on healthcare reform, including reducing healthcare costs, increasing quality, and making health insurance affordable to those without it. Of specific interest to AACN’s legislative agenda, the bill specifically calls for making sound investments in educating more nurses and other health professionals to meet the nation’s growing need for patient care providers.

“On behalf of the nursing community, I commend and congratulate Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), Members of the HELP Committee, and their staff for drafting this legislation, which promises to reinvigorate our country’s healthcare system,” said Dr. Raines.  “It is clear that the Committee recognizes the fundamental need for accessible quality care and understands the contribution nurses will make to ensuring the provisions of the bill are implemented.”

In the written and oral testimony, AACN expressed great appreciation for the Senate HELP Committee’s work to reauthorize Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act, which provides a critical funding stream for nursing and health professions education programs. AACN did request slight modifications to the bill, including:

  • Adding the Capitation Grant program outlined in the Nurse Education, Expansion, and Development Act of 2009, introduced by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), to the bill.
  • Obtaining equal representation among all the health professions on the proposed National Health Care Workforce Commission.
  • Clarifying the definition of primary care providers and ensuring that APRNs are authorized to lead “Medical Homes.”
  • Encouraging the Senate HELP Committee to work with the Senate Finance Committee to amend Medicare regulations to include funding for APRN education.

AACN was encouraged to see that a number of the recommendations made by the Nursing Community in their document Commitment to Quality Healthcare Reform: A Consensus Statement from the Nursing Community were included in the legislation such as the use of the Institutes of Medicine’s definition of primary care, specific changes to the statutory language of the Nursing Workforce Development Programs (Title VIII), and increase funding for Title VIII. For more information on the Consensus Statement signed by 41 national nursing organizations, see www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/ConsensusStmnt.pdf.

To review AACN's written tetimony, see
http://www.aacn.nche.edu/government-affairs/HCReform6-09.pdf. For more information about the Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, see http://help.senate.gov/BAI09A84_xml.pdf.

“AACN stands ready to assist the Senate HELP Committee and Congress to pass meaningful healthcare reform legislation that creates a patient-centered delivery system and recognizes the important role nurses play in achieving this national priority,” added Dr. Raines.

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CONTACT

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