National League for Nursing Galvanizes Support for Nursing Education Funding
In late October, Colorado U.S. Senator Wayne Allard (R), introduced an amendment to the 2008 budget for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health, Human Services and Education, which could have significantly reduced existing federal funding of the Title VIII - Nursing Workforce Development Programs.
The Nursing Workforce Development Programs, administered by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), are the primary source of funding for nursing education. The programs provide financial support for both nursing education programs as well as individual students.
The National League for Nursing (NLN) mobilized its constituents via an email blast, to communicate concern about this possibility, as well as re-stating the need for the existing funding levels, and seeking additional funding.
According to the communication from the NLN, the amendment proposed to reduce funding by 10 percent for any HRSA program found to be "ineffective" as rated by a White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) evaluation, known as the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART). With the exception of the Nurse Loan Repayment and Scholarship Programs, the Allard Amendment would have impacted all Title VIII nursing programs and funding.
The NLN urged its membership and supporters to contact their members of Congress to oppose the amendment. The NLN's outreach to 30,000 individuals in the greater nursing community as well as other member organizations resulted in thousands of emails and phone calls to congressional offices, and subsequently an overwhelming 68-21 vote to table consideration of the amendment.
"We know that our members are committed to making a difference in alleviating the nursing shortage and are extremely pleased that so many moved quickly to take action," said NLN spokeswoman Karen Klestzick. "Our members' involvement is vital to the NLN's objective in the public policy arena to shape and influence those policies that affect nursing workforce development."
In November, President Bush vetoed a bill that would help to ease the nursing shortage by increasing funding in 2008 for nursing workforce development programs. Again, the NLN responded by mobilizing its members and supporters to reach out to their government representatives to support a vote to override the veto. While the motion to override the presidential veto was not successful, the NLN continues to provide information and resources, through its Government Affairs Action Center, to help its members take an active role in molding the policy issues facing the nursing profession.
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