Congressman Tim Ryan Calls on Congressional Leadership to Protect Funding for Hospital Based Nursing Schools | Congressman Tim Ryan
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Congressman Tim Ryan Calls on Congressional Leadership to Protect Funding for Hospital Based Nursing Schools

December 3, 2020
Press Release
Ten Ohio Nursing Schools Including St. Elizabeth’s Youngstown Could Lose Funding

Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today urged House and Senate Leadership to include a provision in the upcoming government funding bill to protect hospital-based nursing schools across the country from facing devastating cuts. 

In the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and to the Appropriations Chairs and Ranking Members of each body, the Members wrote that there are 120 hospital-based nursing schools in the United States, graduating more than 5,000 nurses each year. Locally, Mercy College of Ohio, which operates a nursing school at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Youngstown, would lose approximately $500,000 in funding. Additionally, nine other hospital-based nursing schools in Ohio would lose funding, including Aultman Hospital in Canton. 

Joining Congressman Ryan on the letter are 6 members of the Ohio House delegation, including Congressman Bob Gibbs (OH-7) and Congressman Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16) and over 20 other members from around the country.

“We are in the middle of a pandemic that has strained our health care system to the breaking point and now is not the time to cut funding that may cause hospital-based nursing schools to close their doors,” said Congressman Ryan. “Our well-trained nurses have been the backbone of our healthcare system and we need to ensure that the schools that train them have the necessary funding to continue to operate.”

“The Mercy College of Ohio community greatly appreciates the support of Congressman Tim Ryan who is leading the initiative to prevent the loss of funding for nursing and allied health colleges during this critical time as the demand for nurses soars,” said Dr. Susan Wajert, Mercy College of Ohio President.

“We thank Congressman Ryan for recognizing the need to address this important issue for nursing students,” said Andrea Mazzoccoli, RN, PhD, FAAN, Chief Nurse and Quality Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health. “These students are the future of healthcare and become the frontline workforce impacting thousands of patients each day. Now, more than ever is the time for our leaders to support hospital-based nursing education.”

“For more than a century, Aultman College and its history of nursing education has been a vital program supporting our mission of leading the community to improved health,” said Tony Snyder, President of Aultman Hospital. “Our workforce demands, critically important right now, depend upon a steady supply of new nurses and allied health professionals.”  

“Aultman College, along with the 5 other hospital affiliated nursing programs in Ohio, deeply appreciate the support of Congressman Ryan and his Ohio congressional colleagues including Bob Gibbs and Anthony Gonzalez and their commitment to preserve our ability to meet the growing workforce demand for nurses and allied health professionals, especially during this global pandemic that is challenging our frontline caregivers,”said Dr. Jean Paddock, President of Aultman College.    

The letter is available below and here:

As negotiations continue on the final Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills, we write to urge you to include a provision to protect the nation’s 120 hospital-based nursing schools across the country from facing devastating cuts in funding in the middle of a pandemic. 

On August 21, 2020, CMS issued Transmittal 10315 (Change Request 11642), instructing Medicare Administrative Contractors (MACs) to recalculate the Part C components of nursing and allied health (NAH) and direct graduate medical education (DGME) payments to hospitals for calendar years 2002 through 2018. This applies to all unsettled cost reports as well as those settled within the past three years.

According to the transmittal, CMS failed to make annual updates to the DGME Part C payments that fund the Nursing and Allied Health (NAH) Part C payment pool of up to $60 million annually. CMS has decided to recalculate and recoup payments previously made to NAH programs – effective September 21, 2020. Some hospital-based nursing schools project losing as much as 70% of past payments, with additional payment reductions going forward. The initial analysis is that this could result in the recoupment of about $2 billion in past payments and at least $30 million in additional payment cuts each year. CMS gave these hospitals and their nursing schools barely a month’s notice before implementing this new policy. This “solution” will result in the closing of NAH programs with the concomitant loss of nursing and allied health professionals at a time when these health care providers are most needed. 

While CMS recognizes the tremendous impact this will have on schools across the country, they believe they lack the authority to delay the Transmittal Notice beyond mid-December. For these reasons, we urge you to include language implementing a 180 day delay on the Transmittal Notice to give hospital-based nursing programs more time to work with CMS to find a more long-term solution. 

These nursing schools receive about $108 million annually in CMS pass-through funds to support their nursing education programs. Hospital-based nursing schools act as both employer and educator providing a pipeline of highly trained nurses to many of the communities suffering the highest levels of nursing shortages. Failure to act puts 120 hospital-based nursing schools across the country at risk of closure or cutbacks at a time where we need them the most. 

We must work to ensure the future of hospital-based nursing schools, its employees and graduating nurses who have done so much for this nation during the pandemic. Thank you for your continuing work and thank you for the consideration.