RNS Advocacy: Capitol Update – February 2024

At the time of this writing, Congress is considering another temporary continuing resolution (CR) to extend government funding. This latest stopgap measure would extend funding for one set of agencies and departments through March 8 and the remaining set through March 22. According to congressional leadership, significant progress has been made in the underlying negotiations for government funding, and they believe this latest extension will provide the time they need to wrap up the appropriations bills. Mitigation of the -3.4% Medicare Physician Fee Schedule cut is still one of the health policies that will likely be attached to a government funding vehicle, though other policies such as pharmacy benefit manager reform seem to be off the list for now.

The ongoing discussions on government funding have not stopped the Congress from continuing its legislative work, including on issues of import to the nursing community. On February 7, Representative Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) introduced the Future Advancement of Academic Nursing Act (H.R. 7266). The legislation authorizes grants to schools of nursing to increase the number of students and faculty and to invest in program enhancement and infrastructure modernization. These grants would be administered via the Health Resources and Services Administration. It’s worth mentioning that Representative Underwood is a registered nurse by background, which explains her dedication to policies supporting Advanced Practice Providers (APPs) – and highlights the importance of having the APP voice represented on Capitol Hill.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee was busy this month, too. Of interest was a legislative hearing the Subcommittee held to discuss a long list of health-focused bills, including legislation to reauthorize the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act. That legislation was first enacted in 2022 following the suicide of emergency physician Lorna Breen, who provided frontline care in New York City during the beginning of the pandemic. The bipartisan bill established grant programs for the prevention of suicide and burnout among healthcare providers, but will “sunset” at the end of this year if not reauthorized. The reauthorization discussed by the Health Subcommittee this month would extend the programs through 2029, which enjoys broad support from the medical provider community and Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Finally, RNS has been busy planning its Advocacy Day, which is scheduled for March 20th. Three groups of RNS members will be visiting congressional offices to discuss reforms to utilization management and APP workforce development. If you’d like to become more involved in our advocacy work, please drop us a line: advocacy@rnsnurse.org.