The House Appropriations Committee July 19 approved its FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill that would provide the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with $448 million for Title VII health professions and Title VIII nursing workforce programs, a $91 million (16.8 percent) cut from the FY 2017 enacted level.
The AAMC-coordinated Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC) had sent a July 12 letter to House and Senate appropriators recommending $580 million for Title VII and VIII programs for FY 2018 [see Washington Highlights, July 14], $132 million more than the Committee approved.
The Committee’s bill includes $237 million for the Title VII health professions programs, a $72.2 million (23.3 percent) cut from the FY 2017 enacted level. The bill would eliminate funding for both the Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) and the Public Health and Preventive Medicine program completely. The Centers of Excellence, Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training, and Geriatrics programs all received funding cuts under the Committee’s bill. A funding chart detailing the cuts proposed can be found here.
The bill includes $211.2 million for Title VIII nursing programs, an $18.3 million (8 percent) cut overall. The Nurse Corps program maintained its FY 17 funding level of $83 million, while the remaining Title VIII individual lines were eliminated; the Committee included a new line item under Title VIII called “Nursing Workforce Development,” which was given a $128 million allocation.
During the markup, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) introduced an amendment that aimed to restore Title VII and Title VIII programs to their FY 17 enacted funding levels. In her remarks, Rep. Roybal-Allard emphasized the importance of these programs and urged her colleagues to join her in supporting them:
“I ask my colleagues to support this amendment to protect and promote the health professions workforce for the 21st Century. At a time when the demand for healthcare continues to rise, cuts and consolidations to Title VII and VIII are counter to the goal of increased access.”
Ultimately, the amendment failed to pass with a 30-22 party line vote.