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Proposed 1998 Federal Budget Abandons Nurse Education

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Calling proposed cuts in funding for healthcare programs alarming and contradictory to the priorities he articulated in his State of the Union address, the American Nurse Association (ANA) and many other nursing organizations denounced President Clinton's attempt to balance the budget by slashing critical programs in his Fiscal Year (FY) 1998 budget. Of particular concern was the proposal to decrease dramatically funding for the Nurse Education Act (NEA). Funding for FY `98 is proposed at $7.7 million-down from$63 million for FY `97.

"The administration has promoted excellent public policy through greater use of advanced practice nurses as a cost-effective way to increase access to primary and preventive healthcare services, yet this budget proposal would force some programs to close completely and it would dramatically affect some 4,000 students who rely on traineeships to make their education possible," said ANA President Beverly L. Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN. "Given President Clinton's emphasis on improving access to health care for children and the elderly, his obsession with education, and his commitment to helping the unemployed, particularly welfare mothers, move to gainful employment, we are absolutely stunned by his abandonment of nurse education," said ANA Executive Director Geri Marullo, MSN, RN.

The Nurse Education Act, funded under the Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act, provides the lion's share of federal support for nurse education, the largest of the health professions. These funds primarily support graduate-level programs that enroll approximately 30,000 students annually. These programs prepare registered nurses to assume advance practice roles.

In addition, monies in Title VIII fund nurse-managed clinics affiliated with university schools of nursing. Last year, these clinics, staffed by nursing students and faculty, provided more than 32,000 primary care visits to a range of underserved populations, such as poor children and elderly in many inner cities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for health care professionals is expected to grow 47% by the year 2005, with the need for advanced practice nurses among the greatest.

Funding for other health professions education was also slashed. Funding for primary care and allied health professions education was cut 90% and 56% percent, respectively.

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American Nurse Association press release (February 7, 1997). Contact Sara Foer at 202-651-7023 for further information.

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