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AACN's Washington Weekly

Published March 03, 2021

Partnership Opportunity with FEMA to Vaccinate Communities

As a new Administration commenced, AACN reached out to key federal agencies to highlight the great work our members schools are leading to keep communities safe and prepare a nursing workforce ready to address the current and  future public health emergencies. In response, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reached out to partner with AACN and our member schools to  recruit faculty and nursing students to assist with efforts to stem the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccine volunteers are needed to commit to a period of 14-60 days of service in return for having volunteering costs covered, including transportation, lodging, and meals. Those interested  can reach out to mgaryantes@aacnnursing.org to learn more or visit FEMA-NRCC-vaccinecoordination@fema.dhs.gov to sign up.

Updates from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)

On February 22, NINR Director, Dr. Shannon Zenk, published her Director’s Message, which reaffirmed NINR’s commitment to achieving health equity by identifying ways to remove barriers to quality health care. This message comes as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched its new UNITE initiative, which stands against structural racism in biomedical research. Dr. Zenk’s message also announced that NINR will be hosting a National Nursing Research Roundtable on March 4-5, titled Nursing Research of the Future: Using Clinical Big Data to Explore Health Inequities and Social Determinants of Health. This event will be broadcast live to the public. Click here to join this roundtable and to view more information on speakers and schedule. Additionally, if you would like to provide feedback regarding NINR Strategic Plan 2022–2026, please email your comments to NINRstrategicplan@mail.nih.gov.

Committees Look at Public Health-Telehealth as Congress Continues COVID-19 Conversations

On February 24, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies held a hearing titled Ready or Not: U.S. Public Health Infrastructure. Witnesses and members of the subcommittee discussed funding for public health infrastructure, including data modernization, as well as incentivizing and investing in health professions at all levels.

On March 2, the House Energy and Commerce Committee also held a hearing with a focus on telehealth. In their conversation, The Future of Telehealth: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Delivery of Virtual Care, healthcare professionals and experts spoke to the impact of telehealth, how it may be used to address provider shortages, challenges of virtual care – including access to services, and what the future may hold. Panelists agreed that telehealth should not replace in-person visits, as both are valuable to patient care. To watch the full hearing, click here.

These committee conversations come as the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R. 1319), an approximately $1.9 trillion bill, by a vote of 219 to 212. Senate democrats released their draft substitute amendment that had similar provisions impacting academic nursing, including monies for public health, mental health, and the Nurse Corps. The Senate democratic draft also included additional provisions on education and awareness campaigns encouraging healthy work conditions for healthcare professionals and grants for providers to promote mental health among their workforces.

The Senate could begin consideration of this package as early as today, which would include debate, followed by possible amendments, all before a final vote occurs. AACN will continue to monitor legislative efforts as this COVID-19 package works through the process.

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