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Kaine Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Hospital-Based Nursing Schools From Potential Funding Cuts, Help Virginia Recover From COVID

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine a member of the Senate Health, Education, Pensions, and Labor (HELP) Committee, announced his cosponsorship of the bipartisan Technical Reset to Advance the Instruction of Nurses (TRAIN) Act, legislation to make a technical correction to a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) program that supports the training of nurses and other allied health professionals at hospital-based nursing schools across the country. Due to a technical glitch in how CMS administered this program in the past, many hospital-based nursing schools may be required to send millions of dollars back to CMS. Losing this federal funding could not come at a worse time, as hospitals and institutions of higher education face significant financial challenges as a result of COVID-19. The threat of having to return federal funding could result in schools curtailing their programs or shutting down entirely, which would limit nursing workforce capacity already strained as a result of the pandemic. This bill would ensure hospital-based nursing schools that received funding support can keep those resources and put them toward training the next generation of nurses without the threat of having to give it back. The TRAIN Act was originally introduced by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).

“The pandemic has overwhelmed our health care workforce, including our nurses, and has exacerbated our nation’s staffing shortage,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m glad to support this bipartisan legislation to provide nursing schools in Virginia and across the nation with resources to continue training our next generation of providers and help our nation heal from COVID-19.”

Nurses and other allied health professionals who are educated and receive their training at hospital-based programs provide high-quality care to communities across the country, including areas facing nursing shortages. The six hospital-based nursing schools in Virginia – Centra Health, Southside Regional Medical Center, Carilion Medical Center, Riverside Regional Medical Center, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, and Smyth County Community Hospital – would benefit from this legislation.

As a member of the Senate HELP Committee, addressing our nation’s labor shortage and helping workers prepare for the jobs of the future have been among Kaine’s top priorities throughout the pandemic. In October, Kaine cosponsored the Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2021, legislation to significantly increase Medicare-supported doctor training to help address the growing nationwide physician shortage crisis. In July, he introduced his Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Actlegislation to authorize over $1 billion to support the direct care workforce and family caregivers.

Specifically, the TRAIN Act would:

  • Prohibit CMS from taking back payments made to hospital-based nursing schools and other allied health training programs in the past;
  • Prevent CMS from clawing back overpayments made in past years to hospital-based programs when CMS failed to make technical annual updates to the program; and
  • Support training opportunities for the next generation of health care professionals and help address the nursing shortage.