WASHINGTON, D.C., February 10, 2020 – Earlier today, President Trump released the Administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget, A Budget for America's Future, which proposes steep cuts and the elimination of essential programs under the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Education. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) strongly opposes these reductions as they undermine the federal government's longstanding commitment to educating the future nursing workforce to meet the healthcare needs of our nation.
Consistent with President Trump's past budgets, nearly all of Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs would be eliminated with the exception of the NURSE Corps program, which would receive $83.135 million. Additionally, the critical research underway at the National Institutes of Health would face severe disruptions with a nearly $3 billion proposed cut. This includes slashing the National Institute of Nursing Research's (NINR) budget down to $156.804 million in FY 2021. These reduced funding levels are reflective of an approximate 9% overall cut to HHS.
"Federal funding for Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs is essential to our nursing schools, students, and the profession. Without adequate funding for these programs, the health and well-being of all Americans will suffer," said Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of AACN's Board of Directors.
Not only does the budget propose devastating cuts to nursing workforce and research programs, but to education as well. In fact, the Department of Education would receive a reduction of 7.8% from its budget. Moreover, this budgetary framework lowers caps on lifetime loan limits for PLUS student loan programs, which could hinder American's ability to access higher education. Further, this budget eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program, among other changes. AACN believes that support for institutions of higher education must be maintained and elevated, especially as we prepare nurses and the healthcare workforce to respond and care for patients in all communities, including in rural and underserved areas.
"Investments in academic nursing and the workforce are necessary to ensure that the nurses educated today are ready for the challenges of tomorrow," said Dr. Deborah Trautman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AACN. "The proposed cuts would significantly hamper the nursing profession's ability to educate and retain a qualified workforce."
This budget continues the Administration's shift away from prioritizing critical investments in the health care and higher education sectors. AACN, however, is encouraged to see that support for the National Health Service Corps is sustained and that funding to fight the opioid epidemic has been expanded. Additionally, we are pleased to see nurses receive the recognition they deserve for providing care to the millions of Americans living in rural communities.
AACN remains committed to working with Congress to provide appropriate funding for critical nursing workforce, research, and education programs in FY 2021 and beyond.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for academic nursing representing more than 825 schools of nursing nationwide. AACN establishes quality standards for nursing education, influences the nursing profession to improve health care, and promotes public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice. For information, visit www.aacnnursing.org.