NEWS: Sanders Amendment to Double Funding for Nurses Passes Committee

WASHINGTON, March 15 – An amendment – introduced today by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to provide over $177 million in mandatory funding for the Nurse Corps program for Fiscal Year 2023, which would double the amount of funding it is receiving from this year – was successfully added to the bipartisan pandemic legislation. The full bill passed the committee and now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

Sanders’ amendment passed 12-10.

“Nurses are the backbone of our health care system in Vermont and across the country,” said Sanders. “Simply stated, we will not have the quality health care we need unless we have an adequate number of nurses who are well trained and well compensated. Make no mistake about it: Unless we address this crisis now, it will only get worse in the future. More patients will suffer. More patients will be unable to get the care they need. The amendment I offered today will make this bill just a little bit better by beginning to address the severe nursing shortage in America that has only gotten worse during the pandemic.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently estimated that the U.S. could be facing a shortage of over 1 million nurses this year alone. The crisis is felt even more acutely in rural areas, with 99 percent of rural hospitals facing a staffing shortage and 96 percent saying that they’re having difficulty finding nurses, according to a recent survey from the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Almost half of the rural hospitals in this survey reported that staffing problems prevented them from accepting new patients, while one out of four rural hospitals reported that a lack of nurses had forced them to suspend services like delivering babies, chemotherapy and colonoscopies.

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which runs the Nurse Corps program, predicted several years ago that the U.S. will need an additional 200,000 nurses each and every year through 2030 to replace retiring nurses and meet growing demand. The past two years have only increased that demand.

This amendment is supported by the American Federation of Teachers, the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, and National Nurses United.

See the full amendment text, here.