By Dede Sweeney, ONS Director of Government Affairs
On June 27, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health passed by voice vote two health bills that have been among ONS’s top legislative priorities: the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act ([PCHETA], H.R. 1676) and the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R. 959). The bills are now poised for consideration by the full House Energy and Commerce Committee.
In his opening statement, Committee Chair Greg Walden (R-OR) supported PCHETA as “a cause near and dear to my heart,” and Subcommittee Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) also supported the bipartisan PCHETA bill, which now has 277 cosponsors. Rep. Green introduced the substitute amendment on behalf of bill sponsor Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), and the subcommittee approved it by voice vote.
Health Subcommittee Chair Michael Burgess (R-TX) spoke in support of H.R. 959, a bill sponsored by Nursing Caucus Co-Chair David Joyce (R-OH) to reauthorize the Title VIII Nursing Workforce programs. He introduced a substitute amendment that contained favorable technical changes and changes to the authorization levels to reflect the latest appropriations. Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL) praised H.R. 959 as a way to recruit more nurse faculty in the pipeline to address the nursing shortage.
ONS continues to urge Congress to pass both priority bills that address palliative care and the nursing workforce. At ONS Hill Days in September 2017 and ONS Advocacy Day in May 2018, ONS members urged Congress to support federal funding for nurse faculty and nurse training in palliative care to address a workforce gap and to improve care for patients with serious illnesses such as cancer. As an active participant in the Nursing Community Coalition, ONS supports advocacy efforts to reauthorize and increase funding for Title VIII programs to advance nursing education and strengthen the nursing workforce.