February 22, 2020

Trump’s New Budget Proposes Cuts To Nursing Programs, Research & Student Loan Forgiveness

Trump’s New Budget Proposes Cuts To Nursing Programs, Research & Student Loan Forgiveness

The budget cuts both directly and indirectly pose a threat to educating the future workforce of nurses. 

Trump’s proposed budget for 2021--A Budget for America’s Future--is a budget that plans to eliminate certain nursing education programs in the almost immediate future. 

The budget outlines massive cuts to nursing programs across the country, virtually eliminating all Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development Programs under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Education. These programs provide loans, grants, education, and training to healthcare professionals, connecting them with key underserved areas while doing so. 

According to the Health Resources and Service Administration, from 2016-2017 alone, their programs provided training for over 575,000 future and current health care providers and had 8,400 training sites.

How the Proposed Budget Cuts Breakdown

Nurse Corps Program

The Division of Nursing and Public Health includes seven different branches that affect nurses and nursing education; of those, the proposed budget would only keep one branch, the Nurse Corps program, which would receive $83.135 million. The Nurse Corps program offers up to 85% of education reimbursement for RNs and APRNs in exchange for a two-year service commitment (full-time only) at a critical shortage facility. 

Nursing Workforce Development Programs 

Aside from the preservation of the Nurse Corps program, the budget cuts would eliminate the other branches, which include investments in

  • Workplace diversity
  • The nursing faculty loan program
  • Advanced nursing education
  • Nurse education, practice, and quality
  • Behavioral health workforce education and training

National Institute of Nursing Research's (NINR)

In addition to the direct cuts that the nursing programs would face, the budget also proposes slicing nearly $3 billion from the National Institutes of Health. A large chunk of that would come from bringing down the National Institute of Nursing Research's (NINR) budget down to $156.804 million, a cut that could significantly curtail the important advancements in nursing-specific research that has only just begun. 

How Changing the Budget Affects Nurses

Essentially, along with eliminating actual training programs that provide opportunities for nurses and APRNs to receive an education, the cuts would also potentially decrease educational opportunities. For example, under a 7.8% reduction to the Department of Education, the cap on lifetime loan limits for PLUS student loan programs would be lowered, this means that even less students could access higher education. 

The budget also completely eliminates the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program, which many nurses, along with others working for the government and in the nonprofit sector, have been able to utilize in order to fund their education and go onto serving communities in need. 

Trump’s Healthcare Reform Vision

According to CNN, the cuts are also part of a larger “health care reform vision” that the president is planning, which also includes steep cuts to entitlement programs such as,

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps 
  • Affordable Care Act. 

Medicare, for seniors, is largely being left intact, save from some changes on the provider end. And while no one can predict for sure what the outcome of such changes will be, CNN predicts that “millions” will lose insurance coverage, which could result in an increase in ER visits, chronic illness costs increasing, and even more long-term healthcare effects as a result of food insecurity.  

$7 Billion To Mental Health and Opioid Abuse

The President has also dedicated to increasing Medicaid funding by $7 billion over a decade for programs to combat mental health and opioid abuse.

What Nurses Are Saying 

As the American Association of College of Nurses (AACN) explained in a press release, many leading nursing organizations believe that the proposed budget cuts undermine the federal government's commitment to educating a nursing workforce that will be adequately prepared to serve the needs of a changing healthcare landscape. 

"Investments in academic nursing and the workforce are necessary to ensure that the nurses educated today are ready for the challenges of tomorrow," Dr. Deborah Trautman, President and Chief Executive Officer of AACN, said in the release. "The proposed cuts would significantly hamper the nursing profession's ability to educate and retain a qualified workforce."

"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," Dr. Ann Cary, Chair of AACN's Board of Directors, added. 


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