Guthrie agrees to work on nursing shortage with Democrat on his subcommittee, saying it may be the biggest issue in health care

U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, in his role as chair of the major health subcommittee in the House, pledged last week to work with a rising Delaware Democrat to address the nation’s nursing shortage.

At the Wednesday, May 17, meeting of the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware withdrew her legislation that would set up a national nursing-workforce center and state-based nursing workforce centers.

Blunt Rochester’s legislation “had been on the agenda for the subcommittee’s April legislative hearing, as was much of the legislation passed by the subcommittee on Wednesday, but it was not included in the markup. Blunt Rochester ultimately pulled her amendment to include it in the wide-ranging bill the subcommittee passed but urged Guthrie to include it in the next markup,” reports Michelle Stein of Inside Health Policy. “Guthrie said the nursing workforce shortage is one of the most pressing issues in health care and agreed to work with Blunt Rochester on legislation.”

Guthrie said, “One of the biggest issues we have, the biggest maybe in health care, is the nursing shortage. And we definitely need to work together to move forward on that and try to figure out how we can get through this. And so we’re certainly willing to work with you.”

Earlier, Blunt Rochester said, “I believe we need a strategy to not only centralize the study and the development of nursing workforce practice and policy, but we also need to better support local entities in addressing state-specific nursing workforce challenges.”

The American Association of Colleges for Nursing has “said nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand for RNs and APRNs,” Stein notes. “Nursing homes have warned the administration must take into account nursing shortages when putting together its expected nursing home minimum staffing ratios.”

Blunt Rochester is expected to run for the Senate next year, following Monday’s announcement by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that he will retire.

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