Published March 10, 2021
American Rescue Plan Act Passes the House: Heading to the President’s Desk
Earlier today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the next COVID-19 package, H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 by a vote of 220 to 211. H.R. 1319 now heads to the President’s desk for signature. This $1.9 trillion package provides funding for families, state and local governments, and the broader healthcare provisions, as well as including some of AACN’s priorities, such as:
- $200 million for the Nurse Corps: Supporting scholarships and loan repayment opportunities for nursing students and nurses serving in underserved areas;
- $80 million for Mental and Behavioral Health Training: Awards grants to health professions schools, academic health centers, and others to reduce and address mental and behavioral health issues, such as substance use disorders, suicide, and burnout;
- $7.66 billion for the Public Health Workforce: Including funding for public health nurses;
- $8.5 billion for CDC Vaccines activities: Continuing the efforts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as additional vaccines are purchased and distributed;
- $47.8 billion for Testing, Tracking, and Tracing Efforts; and
- $39.58 billion for the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund: Provides emergency financial support to address COVID-19 and provide outreach to financial aid applicants about any adjustments available.
In addition, H.R. 1319 provides funding for mental health programs, health care for our nation’s veterans, and for the Indian Health Service. We commend Congress for this next step in addressing the public health emergency and look forward to continuing our work as we support academic nursing, our deans, faculty, and students during this unprecedented time.
Senate Committee Holds Hearing on COVID-19 Response Efforts
On March 9, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing titled, “Examining Our COVID-19 Response: An Update from the Frontlines” to address the latest developments and ways to move forward. This hearing focused on frontline providers and the work they are doing throughout the pandemic response efforts. Witnesses on the panel included three physicians from the practice, public health, and education sectors, as well as Mary Ann Fuchs, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, Vice President of Patient Care & System and Chief Nurse Executive at Duke University Health System and President of the American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL). These experts called for more resources to support vaccine distribution and smart investment in the public health workforce, including for doctors, nurses, and other professionals who are experiencing fatigue a year after the pandemic has started.
During her opening statement, Dr. Fuchs reiterated the need for “increased funding for Title VIII Workforce Development Programs and the passage of the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing (FAAN) Act, which would deliver needed investment in nursing infrastructure.” AACN is proud to see nursing represented at the hearing and encourages policymakers to consider nursing’s voice in all conversations moving forward.
AACN Sends Letters to Federal Agencies Welcoming Biden Administration Cabinet Members
As the Senate confirms new department heads and new members of President Biden’s Cabinet, AACN is sending letters to welcome them to their new roles and establish the importance of our member schools' work, which contributes to national healthcare and higher education efforts. So far, we have connected with newly confirmed Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, and Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough. View our recently sent letters here.