April / May 2009

ARN’s Health Policy Agenda for the 111th Congress

Jeremy R. Scott, ARN Health Policy Associate, Government Relations Director, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

ARN is excited to begin another outstanding year of health policy and legislative advocacy! In this first session of the 111th Congress, ARN will continue to support funding for the nursing workforce development programs, nursing research, and the Traumatic Brain Injury Act programs, as well as support of the Prosthetics Parity Act. A report issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), “Projected Supply, Demand, and Shortages of Registered Nurses: 2000–2020,” predicts that the nursing shortage is expected to grow to 41% by 2020. During this Congressional session, ARN will devote its efforts to alleviating the nursing workforce shortage. To accomplish this goal, ARN will support two initiatives in fiscal year 2010. 09febmar_scott
    First, ARN is requesting $215 million in funding for nursing workforce development programs at HRSA. Second, ARN is advocating for increased funding for rehabilitation and nursing research, with a specific request of $150 million for the National Institute of Nursing Research and the maximum possible funding for the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.
    ARN will also encourage Congress to continue funding for the Traumatic Brain Injury Act programs. In the United States, there are approximately 1.5 million children and adults living with long-term or severe disability as a result of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This figure does not include the 150,000 cases of TBI suffered by soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. ARN is calling on Congress to appropriate $10 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention TBI Registries and Surveillance, Prevention, and National Public Education/Awareness; $20 million for the HRSA Federal TBI State Grant Program; and $13.3 million for the HRSA Federal TBI Protection and Advocacy Systems Grant Program.
    It is estimated that the annual national cost of providing treatment and services for these patients is nearly $60 million in direct care and lost-work productivity. Ongoing fiscal support will promote sound public policy in brain injury prevention, research, education, treatment, and community-based services.
    In addition, ARN will urge Congress to take action and pass the Prosthetics Parity Act. This year alone, 155,000 people will undergo surgery to receive an amputation. This number is only expected to escalate as the rates of diabetes, chronic illnesses, and injuries from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to rise. This legislation is an authorizing bill that will address the needs of more than 1.8 million people living with limb loss in the United States by authorizing medical and surgical healthcare benefits for amputees.
    ARN looks forward to working with both new and returning members of Congress on these legislative priorities. Please visit www.rehabnurse.org and click “Health Policy and Advocacy.” The Health Policy Activities and the Advocacy Tool Kit links on the right will provide you with the information you need to ensure your elected officials take action to address the rehabilitation nursing community’s needs.