AACN's Washington Weekly

Published April 01, 2020

CARES Act Signed Into Law: Includes Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization

On March 27, the President signed into law H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This historic legislation contains many of AACN's legislative priorities and key provisions, including: 

  • Reauthorizing the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs: As we combat COVID-19, Title VIII programs provide much needed support for nurses working in our communities, including rural and underserved areas. In addition, these programs are crucial to nursing schools and nursing students so they can continue to meet our nation's healthcare needs today and in the future. By reauthorizing Title VIII, we can ensure that the nursing pipeline remains strong and patients across the country can continue to have access to high-quality nursing care.  
  • Ensuring the Safety and Health of Nurses and Nursing Students: Nothing is more important than the health and safety of the nursing workforce, including, nurse educators and students. H.R. 748 supports that mission by providing $16 billion for the strategic national stockpile, which includes personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  • Safeguarding Federal Student Loans and Aid: H.R. 748 provides $14.25 billion for colleges and universities and emergency financial aid to students. This legislation also suspends federal loan payments and interest accrual through September and allows for flexibility for students and institutions as we adapt to the far-reaching impact of COVID-19. 
  • Authorizes NPs and CNSs to Certify Home Health Care for their Patients: The CARES Act includes language that allows Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNSs) to certify Medicare patients for home health care services. 
  • Modernizes the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps: H.R. 748 authorizes a Ready Reserve Corps to serve in times of public health and national emergencies.

While the inclusion of these legislative priorities is important and historic, AACN recognizes that this moment comes out of necessity as our nation combats COVID-19. AACN will continue to work with our federal policymakers as we address this public health challenge. Read the full AACN press release on the passage of the CARES Act here

Feedback Requested: AACN’s Continued COVID-19 Federal Response

As the federal government continues to address the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to hear from you. Please take this short survey to outline what you are seeing in your communities, and how AACN can help address these needs at the federal level.  We appreciate your time and feedback!  

COVID-19 Response: Administration Action and Update

In addition to Congressional action, the Administration also has been issuing guidance on a variety of issues as they work to combat this pandemic. Below are key policy developments that have occurred over the past few days:

  • Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS): CMS has issued a wide-array of regulatory changes and waiver requests from healthcare providers, state governments, and state hospital associations as they address the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of these changes include increased hospital capacity, expansion of the healthcare workforce, limiting restrictive paperwork requirements, and updating telehealth services. For more information, details on the length of these regulatory changes, and how they are administered, view CMS’s press release. To view CMS’s COVID-19 Medicare Provider Enrollment Relief Frequently Asked Questions, click here.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): On March 24, HHS Secretary Alex Azar sent a letter to all 50 Governors outlining several measures to be taken on the state level in order to combat COVID-19. HHS is calling for removing scope of practice barriers and allowing healthcare providers to practice in various care settings, among other items. In addition, this letter called for signature-less deliveries for pharmaceutical deliveries to align with social distancing guidelines and the safety of our communities.
  • U.S. Department of Education: On March 25, the U.S. Department of Education announced that wage garnishments and collections actions for student loan borrowers will be suspended retroactively for a period of at least 60 days, beginning on March 13. Secretary Betsy DeVos also announced that $1.8 billion will be refunded to the borrowers whose wages, Social Security payments, and tax refunds have been garnished since March 13.

AACN continues to monitor Congressional and Administration action in response to the coronavirus outbreak. For updates and new developments, please visit AACN’s website and follow us on Twitter at @AACNPolicy.

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