AACN and NLN Send Letter to Senate HELP on Higher Education Act Reauthorization
On April 3, AACN and the National League for Nursing (NLN) sent the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee a letter sharing initial perspectives on provisions included in the House’s PROSPER Act. More specifically, the two associations urge the Committee to consider how reformations to issues including federal student loan borrowing and repayment options would impact the nursing pipeline, particularly with respect to graduate nursing students.
Comments to Senate HELP Committee on Higher Education Act Reauthorization
On February 1, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) put out a call for comments in response to a white paper the committee released titled, Higher Education Accountability. The white paper aims to update federal accountability measures for higher education institutions and to modernize and simplify federal requirements for institutions to participate in the federal student loan program. This white paper also serves as a platform for discussions on the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. AACN provided comments in response to the document on February 15 highlighting how nursing students participate in a multitude of federal student aid programs and that they are an investment in the future workforce and economy who demonstrate responsible borrowing.
Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act of 2017
The PROPSPER Act was introduced on December 1, 2017 by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC). The bill would radically change delivery of higher education and provides a platform for reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Overarching themes include promoting innovation, access and completion, simplifying student aid through the creation of a ONE Grant, ONE Loan, and streamlining repayment options, increasing transparency and financial aid counseling, and increasing institutional accountability through “skin in the game” measures. On December 12, AACN sent a letter to the Education and Workforce Committee expressing caution surrounding the proposals for federal student loans and federal regulations.
Employer Participation in Repayment Act of 2017
The Employer Participation in Repayment Act of 2017 (H.R. 795/S. 796) would expand the current tax benefit to allow employers to offer their employees ($5,250 per year; per employee), so that it can be allocated toward student loan repayments. This legislation is timely as it would help alleviate the financial burden of student loan repayment, thus helping graduates invest in the future. H.R. 795 was introduced by Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and S. 796 was introduced by Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). AACN sent letters in support of the bills.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (H.R. 1)
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a tax reform proposal that addresses several aspects of the public and private sectors. Included in H.R. 1 are multiple provisions that would impact students, faculty, and higher education institutions. Namely, these provisions would repeal important tax credits that help curb the cost of higher education to ensure that the pipeline of nursing students and graduates are able to pursue and complete their education in an affordable and timely manner. AACN sent a letter to the Senate on November 29 commending the chamber for omitting these provisions, which originally appeared in the House’s version of H.R. 1, and urges the Senate to continue refraining them from any final tax package.
Graduate Student Savings Act of 2017 (S. 1379)
The Graduate Student Savings Act would allow funds paid to an individual to aid in the pursuit of graduate or postdoctoral study or research to be saved in an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). more than 1 million young people in the U.S. the opportunity to have access to a path toward citizenship based on criteria including whether they are enrolled in an institution of higher education. The bill permits the funds to be considered compensation for purposes of current law provisions that limit annual deductible IRA contributions to the lesser of: (1) the deductible amount permitted under current law, or (2) the compensation includible in the individual's gross income for the year. It was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and referred to the Committee on Finance on June 19, 2017. See a list of cosponsors.
Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act of 2017
The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act would allow more than 1 million young people in the U.S. the opportunity to have access to a path toward citizenship based on criteria including whether they are enrolled in an institution of higher education. This legislation will allow these individuals to continue their education and contribute to the economy. It was first introduced in 2001 and introduced again by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) on July 20, 2017.
Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt (POST-GRAD) Act of 2017 (H.R. 2526)
The POST-GRAD Act would reinstate access to subsidized federal student loans for graduate and professional students. It was introduced on May 18 by Representative Judy Chu (D-CA).
Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017 (H.R. 24382)
The Federal Perkins Loan Program Extension Act of 2017 would temporarily extend the Perkins program for two years, thus helping to ensure students are able to utilize this assistance while obtaining their education. It is estimated that extending Perkins would impact over 500,000 individuals. It was introduced on May 17 by Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Mark Pocan (D-WI), John Duncan (R-TN), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), and Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA).
AACN and Higher Education Organizations Send Letter Regarding Suspension of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
AACN signs letter addressed to Secretary Betsy Devos of the U.S. Department of Education expressing concerns on the suspension of the Internal Revenue Service Data Retrieval Tool.
AACN and Health Professions Education Organizations Send Letter in Support of Graduate Student Federal Aid
AACN signs letter addressed to House Education and Workforce Committee, Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development urging that federal financial aid for graduate students is maintained and strengthened in a future Higher Education Act reauthorization.
The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act (BRIDGE) Act (S. 128 and H.R. 496)
The Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy Act (BRIDGE) Act (S. 128 and H.R. 496) would provide provisional protected presence to qualified individuals who came to the United State as children, specifically those individuals who are eligible for the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program. It was introduced in the Senate on January 1, 2017 by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and has six additional cosponsors. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary on January 12, 2017.
On January 12, 2017, it was introduced in the House by Representative Mike Coffman (R-CO-6) and Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04) and referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478)
The Gun Violence Research Act would amend the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 to eliminate restrictions on the Department of Health and Human Services from using federal funds to research gun violence injuries and fatalities. H.R. 1478 was introduced by Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) on March 10, 2017. AACN sent a letter in support of the bill given its emphasis on promoting the science behind this public health threat, especially in light of recent occurrences of gun violence in schools and campuses. Nurses are integral to both researching this issue and caring for victims of gun violence.
Gun Violence Research and Public Health Surveillance
Following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, AACN joins with the broader healthcare community in sending a letter urging Congress to provide funding for federal research and public health surveillance on firearm-related injuries.
Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2018
The Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 3692/S. 2317) would broaden the Controlled Substances Act to create a permanent solution so that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, including nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and certified registered nurse anesthetists, can prescribe and refer for Medication Assisted Treatment to address patients struggling with addiction. H.R. 3692 was introduced on September 21, 2017 by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), and S. 2317 was introduced on January 17, 2018 by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
RAISE Family Caregivers Act of 2017
The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act of 2017 (H.R. 3759) would allow the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to convene a Family Caregiving Advisory Council. The Secretary, in consultation with other heads of Federal agencies and the Advisory Council, would develop a Family Caregiving Strategy to identify actions that the government, communities, providers, and employers may take to recognize and support caregivers in a manner that reflects their diverse needs. On May 3, 2017, related bill S. 1028 was introduced in the Senate by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Michael Bennet (D-CO). Then, on September 13, 2017, Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) introduced H.R. 3759 in the House. It had 110 additional cosponsors and passed the House Education and Workforce Committee on December 18. On January 8, 2018, H.R. 3759 passed out of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and the full Senate. The bill was signed into law by President Trump on January 23.
Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2017
The CONNECT for Health Act (S. 1016/H.R. 2556) expands the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring services for Medicare beneficiaries with the ultimate goal of improving timely, quality care in a cost-effective manner. The bill would help ensure that patients are able to have greater access to screenings, consultations, monitoring, and other services via telehealth. H.R. 2556 was introduced on June 1, 2017 by Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) and S. 1016 was introduced by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 445)
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2017 (S. 445) would amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to allow nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists to certify home health services for Medicare patients. The bill was introduced in the Senate on February 27, 2017, by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).
Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R. 959, S. 1109)
The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R. 959, S. 1109) would reauthorize the Nursing Workforce Development programs (Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act) through FY 2022. Additionally, the legislation includes four technical changes. In particular, it identifies and defines clinical nurse specialists, highlights the clinical nurse leader role, and adds the definition of nurse-managed health clinics. It was introduced in the House on February 7, 2017, by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and Kathy Castor (D-FL). H.R. 959 currently has 26 additional cosponsors. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. On May 11, 2017, it was introduced in the Senate by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Susan Collins (R-ME).
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