Sep 14 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Congresswomen Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) and Young Kim (R-CA) introduced the bipartisan and bicameral National Nursing Workforce Center Act that would establish a 3-year pilot program through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support state-based nursing workforce centers. The legislation would also broaden HRSA’s authority to establish Health Workforce Research Centers on any program under the Public Health Service Act and give HRSA clear authority to establish a nursing focused research and technical assistance center under the Health Workforce Research Center Program.

“Nurses play a crucial role in providing accessible, high-quality care to Americans. Resolving existing nursing workforce challenges, which have been compounded by the pandemic, the increased demand for health care services, and the aging workforce, requires innovative approaches that support and strengthen every aspect of the nursing workforce pipeline,” said Senator Tillis. “I’m proud to co-introduce the bipartisan National Nursing Workforce Center Act that will enhance collaboration and coordination, enabling state and local experts to identify and address unique challenges to increase the resiliency of the nursing workforce.” 

“As the husband of a nurse, I know just how important nurses are to patients, and how their support and advocacy can make a world of difference at some of the most difficult and joyous moments of people's lives,” said Senator Merkley. “This bill will help establish and support local nursing initiatives and workforce centers across the country—like the one we already have here in Oregon—to apply a local approach to the current nursing workforce crisis. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bipartisan bill passed.”

“The National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers is excited about the introduction of the National Nursing Workforce Center Act. This will provide critical funding to support and solidify the foundation of existing nursing workforce centers while providing funding for states without a center to create one. This act would provide technical assistance to smaller and new nursing workforce centers and build a strong network of experts on state-level nursing workforce issues and solutions.  Nursing workforce centers serve as hubs to advance nursing education, practice, leadership, and workforce development at state and local levels using data-driven approaches.” – Lanelle Weems, President, National Forum of State Nursing Workforce Centers

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a national shortage of registered nurses, making it critical that policymakers invest in all segments of the nursing workforce: from education and training to retention and leadership development. An important component of this is also having complete, national, standardized data to understand where public policy can help alleviate these shortages. An estimated 500,000 nurses plan to leave the bedside by the end of 2022—creating a shortage of 1.1 million nurses—just as the population of older people, who may require more medical services for complex medical conditions, begins to increase dramatically. 

The National Nursing Workforce Center Act would help address the shortage by:

  • Establishing a fully-offset, sustainable pilot grant program through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support state-based nursing workforce centers; 
  • Broadening HRSA’s authority to establish Health Workforce Research Centers on any program under the Public Health Service Act, rather than just Title VII programs authorized under current statute; 
  • Giving HRSA clear authority and a mandate to focus on nursing issues by requiring the agency to establish a nursing focused research and technical assistance center under the Health Workforce Research Center Program. 
  • Requiring reports assessing this public-private partnership and if and how it should be expanded nationwide. 

A one-pager of the bill can be found here