Wednesday, August 7th 2002

Dear Member of Congress:

The organizations listed below, representing the breadth of health care delivery across the nation, thank you for voting to pass “The Nurse Reinvestment Act,” H.R. 3487, which the President recently signed into law.  This strong nursing workforce legislation marks an important step in helping address the critical shortage of nurses that our country is facing.  Now, we urge you to make the funding of the Nurse Reinvestment Act a top priority.

Our nation is struggling with a growing shortage of nurses that affects our hospitals, long-term care facilities, home health agencies, and public health clinics on a daily basis.  Because nurses are the largest health care delivery workforce in the nation, this burgeoning shortage threatens the very fabric of our health care system.  We urge you to support a Fiscal Year (FY) 2003 appropriation of $250 million to adequately address this growing crisis.  These dollars should be appropriated in addition to current funding provided for nursing education.

The nursing shortage is already hurting patient care.  A recent survey of hospitals across the nation concluded nursing shortages are contributing to overcrowded emergency departments, emergency department diversions, increased wait times for surgery, discontinued patient care programs or reduced service hours, delayed discharges, and canceled surgeries.  With the aging of the existing registered nurse population, declining interest in the nursing profession among prospective students, and an erosion of the nurse education infrastructure, the future holds little potential to resolve this crisis without decisive action from Congress.

On July 22, both chambers took the visionary step of passing the Nurse Reinvestment Act.  This historic legislation holds the promise of attracting more people into the nursing profession, increasing the capacity for nurse education, and encouraging practicing nurses to remain in the profession.  However, none of these programs will become a reality without adequate new appropriations.

Congressional passage of the Nurse Reinvestment Act is an important acknowledgement that the nursing shortage must be addressed now if we are to thwart a crisis in the future.  We urge you to complete your good efforts on this legislation by supporting a FY 2003 appropriation of $250 million, in addition to funding currently provided for nursing education.  A national commitment to the legislation is crucial to the health of all Americans.  Thank you for consideration of this important issue.

Sincerely,

American Association of Colleges of Nursing
American Health Care Association
American Hospital Association
American Nurses Association
American Organization of Nurse Executives
Federation of American Hospitals

 

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