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ARN Health Policy Digest – November 2022

We are pleased to present the November issue of the ARN Health Policy Digest. This member benefit provides updates on health policy and legislative and regulatory developments that may be of interest to rehabilitation nurses.

Midterm Election Update 

Following the November 8 midterm elections, Democrats retained control of the Senate, although there is one outstanding Senate race in Georgia which will be settled in a December 6 runoff, and Republicans have gained control of the House by very narrow margins. The 118th Congress is unlikely to be one that adopts sweeping policy changes. Instead, this Congress will only be able to make considerable progress in areas with strong bipartisan agreement.

FY 2023 Appropriations Update 

Congress must pass a government funding bill or another continuing resolution (CR) before the current CR expires on December 16. We have heard that appropriations leaders are intent on negotiating and passing an omnibus funding package before the CR ends or by the end of the calendar year. With the December 16 deadline quickly approaching, Congress still needs to reach a bipartisan agreement on top-line spending levels for defense and non-defense funding. We are also hearing that additional supplemental funding for Ukraine, disaster assistance, authorizations for mental health services, and other health priorities will likely be included in an omnibus package. We look forward to updating ARN members in this space as the FY 2023 appropriations process continues throughout the end of the year.

ARN Comments on CMS RFI to Promote Efficiency, Reduce Burden, and Advance Equity 

Earlier this month, ARN submitted comments on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Request for Information (RFI) seeking public input on accessing healthcare and related challenges, understanding provider experiences, advancing health equity, and assessing the impact of waivers and flexibilities provided in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). ARN provided input on removing barriers caused by prior authorization requirements, suggested improvements to the nursing workforce and its ability to serve underserved and disadvantaged populations, and provided feedback to reduce burden associated with CMS' quality programs. Furthermore, ARN also commented on the need to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) waivers beyond the end of the pandemic, including the telehealth flexibilities, the intensity of therapy requirement or "Three-Hour Rule" for IRFs, the flexibility for IRFs regarding the "60 Percent Rule, and the SNF 3-day prior hospitalization requirement.

Tune in for a Virtual Briefing on the Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities 

The National Council on Disability (NCD) is holding a virtual policy briefing to discuss the Council's report titled, "The Impact of COVID-19 on People with Disabilities. The report, published here, takes a comprehensive look at COVID-19's disproportionate negative impact on people with disabilities in the United States, examining a year in a public health emergency as it occurred in real time. The report examines the pandemic's impact across seven areas: healthcare, the direct care workforce, congregate care facilities (CCFs), education, employment, effective communication, and mental health and suicide prevention policy, providing findings and recommendations for policymakers. The briefing will take place on Monday, November 28 at 3 pm ET. You can register here.

NINR Aims to Advance Health Equity 

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) recently introduced its 2022-2026 Strategic Plan, which redefines its mission to advance health equity. In accordance with its strategic plan, the NINR published funding opportunity announcements for research in attempt to optimize health and advance health equity, which will accept applications through February 2025.

Funding Opportunity: DoL Nursing Expansion Grants 

The Department of Labor is planning to invest $80 million to expand and diversify the pipeline of qualified nursing professionals. Specifically, the funding aims to increase the number of nursing educators and train frontline professionals and paraprofessionals to attain postsecondary credentials needed for middle- to high-skilled nursing jobs. This application was posted by the Agency on Employment and Training Administration on October 3, 2022 and will close on January 6, 2023.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Research 

The Interagency Committee on Disability Research released a white paper titled, The Impact of COVID-19 on Disability Research: New Challenges and Widening Disparities. The white paper highlights the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the field of disability research and notes the financial, quality and efficiency, knowledge and dissemination impacts, and preexisting disparities for researchers. Furthermore, the report discusses areas of new research and how the transition to virtual research methods has altered the research landscape.

New Nursing Workforce Dashboard 

Recently, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) recently announced the Nursing Workforce Dashboard. Using National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses (NSSRN) data, this tool allows for visualization of current demographics, employment, education and more, of the current nursing workforce.

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