The American Nurses Association expressed its support for President Obama’s budget, released Wednesday, for including “vital investments that strengthen the nation’s healthcare system,” according to a news release.
The ANA commended the $251 million allocated to the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs. The approximately $20 million increase over Obama’s previous budget proposals is designed to allow these programs to continue recruiting new nurses into the profession, promoting career advancement within nursing and allocating nurses to critical shortage areas.
“With the proposed increase to Title VIII funding, the Obama administration continues to recognize the invaluable contribution that nurses make in the delivery of care and the need to strengthen our primary care system,” ANA President Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in the news release. “This proposed budget takes the long view and reflects tough choices by the Obama administration, while still supporting programs that are needed to transform the healthcare system and improve health for all.”
From the ANA’s perspective, other worthwhile healthcare investments in the budget include:
• $80.1 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services for investments in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, medical research and other priorities;
• $803.5 million for insurance exchange operations, part of the ACA;
• $235 million in funding for new mental health programs, including $50 million to train master’s-level mental health specialists such as nurses, psychologists and counselors who work in schools. The funding is designed to expand the mental health workforce and help schools detect early warning signs in students that can threaten the safety of classmates, teachers and the surrounding community;
• $3.8 billion for community health centers that will provide key primary care services for underserved communities.
Obama’s budget proposals drew criticism from some healthcare groups.
The budget seeks to achieve deficit reduction through a combination of revenue increases and spending cuts. Among the proposed cuts is $400 billion in federal health spending, mostly on Medicare. The decrease would affect both providers and beneficiaries.
“The solution to what ails our nation’s fiscal health is not further cuts to providers that care for millions of America’s seniors, but creative solutions to modernize the Medicare program,” Rich Umbdenstock, CEO of the American Hospital Association, said in a news release.
The Affordable Care Act includes various provisions that reduce the rate of payment growth to Medicare providers. Hospital representatives stated they could accept these decreases, figuring the influx of newly insured patients would make up for the shortfall.