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AACN's Washington Weekly

Published April 21, 2021

Policy Update: COVID-19 Community Corps and Other Ongoing Efforts

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) unveiled a new public awareness campaign, the COVID-19 Community Corps, a nationwide, grassroots network of leaders committed to ending the pandemic and empowering people with vaccine information. In addition, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra made an announcement that all HRSA-funded health centers and similar programs are now invited to participate in the Health Center COVID-19 Vaccine Program. This comes as we reach the Administration’s April 19 timeline when every person aged 16 years and older in the U.S. are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. As we continue to combat the pandemic, and as the HHS Secretary extends the public health emergency, sign up to join the COVID-19 Community Corps by clicking here.

Congressional Hearings on Public Health Challenges

Last week, congressional committees resumed their work and held multiple hearings focused on COVID-19, the opioid epidemic, mental health, and other public health issues. Below is a summary of a few hearings to note:

  • An Epidemic Within a Pandemic: Understanding Substance Use and Misuse in America

On April 14, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a hearing focused on the opioid epidemic and possible legislative efforts to address this ongoing public health challenge. Witnesses included Regina M. LaBelle, Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Policy, as well as other health professionals and practitioners. This hearing help to renew the national conversation as we continue to tackle the opioid crisis in America. To view the hearing, click here.

  • Reaching the Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Science-Driven Approach to Safely and Swiftly Ending the Pandemic

On April 15, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis held a hearing on the Biden Administration’s efforts to distribute vaccines, ways to combat vaccine hesitancy, and paths that must be taken to end this public health crisis. Key witnesses included Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and Dr. David Kessler, Chief Science Officer for COVID Response. Current trends outlined by the witnesses indicate we are heading in the right direction as we continue to combat this pandemic. The presenters reiterated the importance of ongoing efforts, such as getting the vaccine and wearing your mask, to ensure we remain on this positive trajectory. To view the hearing, click here.

  • COVID-19 Recovery: Supporting Workers and Modernizing the Workforce Through Quality Education, Training, and Employment Opportunities

On April 20, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a hearing on how to strengthen the current and future workforce, including the public health sector, as the country continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. Witnesses emphasized the need for consistent federal funding and expansion of grants eligibility in order to support all educational pathways for the current and future workforce. To view the hearing, click here

AACN Responds to Senate HELP Committee Workforce RFI

On April 9, AACN responded to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee’s Request for Information (RFI) as they begin a bipartisan conversation on workforce development, including for the healthcare and public health sectors. AACN’s response outlined the need for legislation, such as the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act (FAAN) (S. 246/H.R. 851), to be included in any workforce package. As one of AACN’s top priorities, the FAAN Act would support the current and future nursing workforce by providing immediate infrastructure needs and developing long-term strategies. To read AACN’s response to the HELP Committee’s RFI, click here.

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