Congressional Nursing Caucus Formed

  1. From ANA.org 3/19/2003 :

    Bipartisan working group will tackle nursing-community issues

    Washington, DC - The American Nurses Association (ANA) today hailed the formation of a Congressional Nursing Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives as "a decisive step forward for Congress and a bold step in the right direction for nurses and their patients." Founded by Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and Ed Whitfield (R-KY), the purpose of the bi-partisan caucus is to educate Congress on all aspects of the nursing profession and how nursing issues impact the delivery of safe, quality care. The caucus was formed after consultation between congressional leaders and ANA.


    "We are excited about this newly formed nursing caucus because it will allow members of Congress to seek an open forum to address the issues affecting the nursing community," said ANA President Barbara Blakeney, MS, APRN,BC, ANP.


    The caucus will hold regular briefings on matters such as the nursing shortage, bioterrorism preparedness, Medicare and patient safety issues. In addition, the caucus will serve as a clearinghouse for information and a sounding board for ideas brought forth by the nursing community.


    "The establishment of this nursing caucus is invaluable to ANA's work in Washington," said Blakeney. "And to have a permanent entity in Congress that focuses solely on issues facing the nursing community is beneficial to every nurse and health-care consumer in America," she added.

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    In early January, Reps. Capps and Whitfield sent a "Dear Colleague" to members of the House of Representatives inviting them to join the new caucus. In addition, Blakeney has urged ANA members to contact their elected representatives to encourage them to join the caucus. To date, the caucus has 56 members.


    One subject the Congressional Nursing Caucus leaders will likely address is the Bush administration's smallpox vaccination program. The vaccination of 500,000 health care workers and first responders began Jan. 24, 2003. However, ANA has raised concerns about adequate protections for nurses and their patients under the administration's current plan, and ANA has been working with Congress and the administration on proposals to address these shortcomings.


    "Smallpox vaccination is an issue that should be debated and discussed in an environment such as the Congressional Nursing Caucus," Blakeney noted. "That's one of the reasons why the formation of this entity is so important."
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