AACN News AACN RECOGNIZES THAT NURSING EDUCATION WAS SPARED CUTS IN THE PRESIDENT'S FY 2007 BUDGET REQUEST: ELIMINATION OF HEALTH PROFESSION PROGRAMS WILL LIMIT ACCESS TO CARE
February 15, 2006 — Washington, DC — Today, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) announced its support for the continuation of federal funding for nursing education included in President Bush’s FY 2007 budget proposal. Though the president called for the elimination of other programs that prepare health professionals, funding for nursing was requested at the current level ($150 million) for Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act). AACN is concerned, however, that the elimination of the other health professions education programs (Title VII) will severely limit access to health care for underserved populations.
“Though more federal funding is needed to adequately address the nation's nursing shortage, AACN is grateful to see the president calling for investments in nursing education despite deep cuts in other areas of the proposed budget,” said AACN President Jean E. Bartels. “AACN will work with our members and policymakers on Capitol Hill to advocate for maintaining, and hopefully increasing, the funding for Title VII and Title VIII programs as the appropriations process moves forward”
Though funding for nursing would be maintained, AACN is concerned that the Nurse Faculty Loan Program may not be adequately funded. This loan repayment program was created to address the growing shortage of nurse educators needed to expand capacity in programs preparing new nurses. According to AACN’s latest data, 32,617 qualified students were turned away from entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs last year due primarily to insufficient numbers of faculty. Over 75 percent of schools surveyed cited the faculty shortage as the primary barrier to increasing enrollment.
“By increasing funding to prepare nurse educators, Congress will pave the way for nursing schools nationwide to accept more students, expand enrollments, and graduate more entry-level nurses,” added Dr. Bartels. “Legislators must make funding graduate level nursing education a top priority by increasing for the Nurse Faculty Loan Program and endorsing new initiatives to address this crippling shortage”
AACN is disappointed to see essentially level funding for agencies and programs focused on social and biomedical research and on improving patient safety. The FY 2007 budget request for the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was proposed at FY 2006 levels, which translates into $28.5 billion, $137 million and $318 million, respectively. The new budget proposal also calls for level funding ($126 million) for the National Health Services Corps which provides scholarships for health care providers who agree to work in underserved rural and urban areas.
Further, the president’s proposed elimination of programs that support the other health professions, including medicine and allied health, will limit the availability of health care providers and likely add to the growing issue of health disparities. “Cutting programs that support the health care workforce will surely diminish access to care and deny services to vulnerable populations in need,” said Dr. Bartels.
Specific funding levels for nursing education programs that were proposed in the President’s FY 2007 budget are listed on AACN’s Web site at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Government/FY2007Chart.pdf.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is the national voice for university and four-year-college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 590 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. Web site http://www.aacn.nche.edu for more information.