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AACN's Washington Weekly

Published April 22, 2020

AACN Letter Sent to Congressional Leadership Outlining Ongoing COVID-19 Legislative Requests

On April 15, AACN sent a letter to congressional leaders, key committees, and other congressional champions outlining ongoing legislative priorities to address COVID-19. These priorities include:

  • Investment in Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs: These programs continue to fill a vital and unique role in addressing nursing education, workforce, and retention.
  • Infrastructure Support for Nursing Education: This is especially important as nursing schools transition to remote/distance learning, all while continuing to prepare the nation’s future nursing workforce. 
  • Guarantee the Safety and Health of Nurses and Nursing Students: Priority must be given to ensuring that nursing educators and students are able to access personal protective equipment (PPE), have health worker protections, and institute other safety measures as they put their health at risk to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Provide Technical Change to Nurse Corps Loan Repayment and Scholarship Tax Status.

These priorities were based on feedback from AACN members and the AACN’s COVID-19 Federal Response Survey. Thank you for your feedback and input! Read the full AACN letter here. For additional updates and information, please visit AACN’s Advocacy and Policy COVID-19 Efforts webpage, and follow us on Twitter at @AACNPolicy.

Congress Comes to Agreement on Interim COVID Relief Package

On April 21, congressional leaders agreed to the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which would provide an additional $75 billion to hospitals and healthcare providers, $25 billion to increase testing for COVID-19, and $310 billion for small business aid through the Paycheck Protection Program, among other provisions. The legislation passed the Senate, and the House is expected to vote this coming Thursday, April 23.

AACN will continue to monitor the federal response and work with Congress and the Administration as they address this public health challenge.

Addressing Maternal Mortality in America

Last month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Maternal Mortality Trends in Pregnancy-Related Deaths and Federal Efforts to Reduce Them. The congressional request for this GAO report highlighted that while the maternal mortality ratio decreased globally from 2000 to 2015, it increased in the United States by about 3% over the same time period. This GAO report explores trends in pregnancy-related deaths and federal measures taken to reduce the mortality rate. One such action was CDC cooperative agreements that were awarded to 24 recipients from 25 states aimed to help set up Maternal Mortality Review Committees, who will work on developing prevention interventions. While this is one example, more work needs to be done to address the maternal mortality crisis in this country.

On April 15, AACN attended a webinar titled, “Black Maternal Health Challenges: What’s Race Got to Do With It?” which was hosted by the National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF). The conversation focused on the racial health disparities in maternal health that currently exist in the United States. Panelists suggested that in a post COVID-19 world, pre-natal care, through areas such as telehealth, should be more widely accessible to offset these stark disparities. Collectively, many agreed that to improve healthcare outcomes, particularly in regards to Black maternal mortality rates, more research needs to be done to explore health risk factors and develop more effective prevention measures.

AACN has supported H.R. 6164, the Perinatal Workforce Act of 2020, which is also included as one of nine other bills in H.R. 6142, the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act of 2020. H.R. 6164, sponsored by Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI), would establish perinatal nursing workforce grants to schools of nursing to grow and diversify the perinatal nursing workforce, among other priorities. In addition, AACN also supports H.R. 3849, the Midwives for Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services (MOMs) Act. AACN will continue to monitor and work on this vital issue.

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