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NLN Capitol Connection - August 2017

Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act
August 1, 2017

Senate Fails to Pass Repeal and Replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
After a week of negotiations and attempts to pass some sort of repeal of the ACA, the Senate failed to garner enough votes to do so. During the course of 20 hours of debate, votes on an updated Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate's version of repeal and replace of the ACA and a straight repeal bill of certain ACA provisions were voted down by Democrats and a handful of Republicans. The goal was to pass a ’skinny’ bill  with a pared down repeal that could get the Republican caucus to the 50 votes necessary to conference the legislation with the House-passed version in order to continue negotiations. Even after assurances from House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to go to conference on the bills, it was still uncertain what would happen to a 'skinny' repeal should it pass. Last week, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and unexpectedly, John McCain (R-AZ) voted with all Democrats to vote down the third and final effort for ACA repeal.

After this failure to get the necessary 51 votes to pass, it is unclear how Congress will move forward on the effort. The Senate, at least for now, will remain in session for two more weeks and may or may not continue to address health care.

House Appropriations Committee Passes 2018 Health Spending Bill
On July 19, the House Appropriations Committee passed their Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education and Related Agencies spending bill for FY 2018 by a party line vote of 28-22. The Title VIII nursing workforce development programs at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) would receive $211.2 million (a cut of $18.3 million, or 8 percent). Additionally, committee report language states that the Title VIII programs have been consolidated under the title “Nursing Workforce Development.” The committee only details funding for two programs: $83.1 million for NURSE Corps and $128.1 million for Nursing Workforce Development.

Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) offered an amendment to restore funding for certain Title VII health professions programs and to restore the proposed $18.3 million cut to Title VIII nursing workforce development programs. Unfortunately, the Roybal-Allard amendment failed. The NLN will continue to advocate for increased funding for the Title VIII programs in FY 2018.

The next edition of the Capitol Connection will be published on September 5, 2017.

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