Congress Averts Government Shutdown with Final FY 2011 Continuing Resolution
Congress and the White House finally reached a deal on April 8 that averted a shutdown of the federal government and finalized funding for fiscal year (FY) 2011. The deal cuts around $39 billion from FY 2010 funding levels. This includes $12 billion in reductions previously approved by Congress and signed into law under the prior three continuing resolutions (CR), as well as nearly $28 billion in additional new spending cuts.
Below is a breakdown of how NLN-supported programs fared in the final FY 2011 continuing resolution:
The CR makes a 0.2 percent across the board cut from all non-defense programs and the figures listed above do not reflect this cut. Additionally, all previous policy riders that would have defunded the federal health reform law were eliminated. Both the House and Senate passed the final FY 2011 CR on April 14 and the president signed it into law on April 15, 2011.
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) - HRSA will receive $6.274 billion which is $1.2 billion below the FY 2010 funding level. The final CR does not specify funding levels for the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs and the Title VII Health Professions Programs, but the Bureau of Health Professions (where the Title VII and VIII programs are located) was cut by $164 million. The $164 million in cuts for the Bureau of Health Professions is guidance only since the language about the bureau is not in the actual bill and, therefore, not legally binding. HRSA will have 30 days to create a spending plan and decide if these cuts to the bureau will be included.
2011 Faculty Loan Repayment Program Announcement
The Health Resources and Services Administration recently announced the availability of the 2011 Faculty Loan Repayment Program (FLRP) grants. FLRP grants are available for health professions faculty from disadvantaged backgrounds who serve on the faculty of an accredited health professions college or university for two years. Applications are due by May 6, 2011.
In exchange for educating tomorrow's clinicians, this federal grant pays up to $40,000 of the participant's federal direct student loans and provides funds to offset the tax burden with a tax liability benefit equal to 39 percent of the loan repayment amount. Applicants must have an employment commitment for a full-time or part-time faculty position for a minimum of two years, beginning on or before July 31, 2010, from either a program in allied health, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, podiatric medicine, public health, or veterinary medicine.
FROM THE STATES . . .
Cuomo Budget Kind to Nursing
Times are tough for higher education in New York. But since the start of the budgeting process, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has supported reviving a set of nurse-education awards that went by the wayside under the previous administration. The Nursing Faculty Loan Forgiveness Incentive and the Senator Patricia K. McGee Nursing Faculty Scholarship programs were derailed in July, when then-Governor David Paterson vetoed $419 million in education funding.
Stimulus Funding Goes a Long Way to Aid Efforts to Improve Nursing in Wyoming
As legislators decide whether to reinstate them, the state is confronting a growing shortage of nurses. New York has substantially fewer registered nurses per capita than the national average, a trend that will persist through at least 2020, according to the University of Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies.
Along with the Regents Physician Loan Forgiveness Program, which goes to doctors serving in underserved areas, the nurse-education programs would receive a total of $7.7 million in 2011-12 and $4.2 million in 2012-13. They would be extended until June 30, 2016. The share of the pie would be bigger at first so the state could retroactively pay students who missed out this year.
The Wyoming Center for Nursing and Health Care Partnerships (WCNHCP) was created to help lead the charge to strengthen the statewide nursing workforce. A $280,000 injection of federal stimulus funds, allocated to the University of Wyoming (UW) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, has enabled the center to fully carry out its mission. "Without this funding, I'd basically be sitting at my desk working on a website," says Matt Sholty, who coordinates the center, housed inside the UW College of Health Sciences. "And," he adds, "the RENEW program wouldn't have even been a thought."
RENEW (Revolutionizing Nursing Education in Wyoming), a joint partnership between the WCNHCP, the Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing at UW, Wyoming's community colleges, and health care organizations throughout the state, aims to enhance the quality of nursing by developing a shared, competency-based statewide curriculum. In the program, prospective nurses will be able to earn an associate degree or continue seamlessly to a BSN degree (or higher) at UW or any of the state's seven community colleges. The courses needed for BSN completion through the university will be available through distance delivery.
The federal stimulus funding has also helped the WCNHCP establish the Nursing Education Summit, a three-day conference in May that brings together nurses and nursing educators from across Wyoming. The first summit last year attracted 75 professionals; Sholty has greater expectations for this year's event, May 22-24 in Casper.
The RENEW program arose from a presentation by the Oregon Consortium for Nursing Education at last year's summit. Though Oregon needed 10 years to implement its version of RENEW, Wyoming has a shorter timeline — it's shooting for five years.
The WCNHCP also used the stimulus funding to pay for a recent statewide middle school media campaign contest, won by Tongue River Middle School in Ranchester, aimed at raising awareness about nursing as a career. The winning class produced a poster urging their fellow students to "Be a Work of Heart." They also recorded a radio advertisement that is airing on stations across the state.
Finally, the stimulus funding helped the WCNHCP enhance the Wyoming Nursing Leadership Institute, a partnership project with the Wyoming Nurses Association. The program consists of four sessions aimed at building the necessary skills to lead today's health care organizations.
To learn more about the WCNHCP, go to its official website at www.wynursing.org.