Text: H.R.6652 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/30/2008)


110th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 6652


To amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a graduate degree loan repayment program for nurses who become nursing school faculty members.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

July 30, 2008

Mr. Latham (for himself, Ms. Baldwin, Mrs. Capps, Mr. McNulty, Ms. Corrine Brown of Florida, Mr. Grijalva, Mr. Kind, Mr. Butterfield, Mr. Smith of New Jersey, Mr. Sarbanes, Ms. Bordallo, Mr. Gutierrez, and Mr. English of Pennsylvania) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce


A BILL

To amend the Public Health Service Act to establish a graduate degree loan repayment program for nurses who become nursing school faculty members.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Nurses’ Higher Education and Loan Repayment Act of 2008”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

The Congress finds the following:

(1) The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates there is currently a shortage of more than 200,000 registered nurses nationwide and projects the shortage will grow to over 1 million nurses by 2020, 36 percent less than needed to meet demand for nursing care.

(2) The shortage of qualified nursing faculty is the primary factor driving the inability of nursing schools to graduate more registered nurses to meet the nation’s growing workforce demand.

(3) There continues to be strong interest on the part of young Americans to enter the nursing field. The National League for Nursing estimates that 88,000 qualified applications, or one out of every three submitted to basic registered nurse programs in 2006, were rejected due to lack of capacity.

(4) The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (in this Act referred to as the “AACN”) estimates that 40,285 applicants were turned away specifically from baccalaureate and graduate schools of nursing in 2007 and over 70 percent of the schools responding to the AACN survey reported a lack of nurse faculty as the number one reason for turning away qualified applicants. Likewise, nearly 70 percent of the associate’s degree registered nurse programs responding to the most recent American Association of Community Colleges Nursing Survey reported a lack of faculty to teach as the number one reason for turning away qualified applicants.

(5) Large numbers of faculty members at schools of nursing in the United States are nearing retirement. According to the AACN, the average age of a nurse faculty member is 55 years old and the average age at retirement is 62.

(6) The current nationwide nurse faculty vacancy rate is estimated to be as high as 8.8 percent, including 767 vacant positions at schools of nursing offering baccalaureate and advanced degrees and, in 2006, as many as 880 in associate’s degree programs.

(7) Market forces have created disincentives for individuals qualified to become nurse educators from pursing this career. The average annual salary for an associate professor of nursing with a master’s degree is nearly 20 percent less that the average salary for a nurse practitioner with a master’s degree, according to the 2007 salary survey by the journal ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners.

(8) The most recent Health Resources and Services Administration survey data indicates that from a total of more than 2 million registered nurses, only 143,113 registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree and only 51,318 registered nurses with an associate’s degree have continued their education to earn a master’s degree in the science of nursing, the minimum credential necessary to teach in all types of registered nurse programs. The majority of these graduates do not become nurse educators.

(9) Current Federal incentive programs to encourage nurses to become educators are inadequate and inaccessible for many interested nurses.

(10) A broad incentive program must be available to willing and qualified nurses that will provide financial support and encourage them to pursue and maintain a career in nursing education.

SEC. 3. Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program.

Part E of title VIII of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 297a et seq.) is amended by inserting after section 846A the following new section:

“SEC. 846B. Nurse Faculty Loan Repayment Program.

“(a) Establishment.—The Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration, may enter into an agreement with eligible individuals for the repayment of education loans, in accordance with this section, to increase the number of qualified nursing faculty.

“(b) Agreements.—Each agreement entered into under subsection (a) shall require that the eligible individual shall serve as a full-time member of the faculty of an accredited school of nursing for a total period, in the aggregate, of at least four years during the six-year period beginning on the later of—

“(1) the date on which the individual receives a master’s or doctorate nursing degree from an accredited school of nursing; or

“(2) the date on which the individual enters into an agreement under subsection (a).

“(c) Agreement provisions.—Agreements entered into pursuant to subsection (a) shall be entered into on such terms and conditions as the Secretary may determine, except that—

“(1) not more than ten months after the date on which the six-year period described under subsection (b) begins, but in no case before the individual starts as a full-time member of the faculty of an accredited school of nursing, the Secretary shall begin making payments, for and on behalf of that individual, on the outstanding principal of, and interest on, any loan of that individual obtained to pay for such degree;

“(2) for an individual who has completed a master’s degree in nursing—

“(A) payments may not exceed $10,000 per calendar year; and

“(B) total payments may not exceed $40,000; and

“(3) for an individual who has completed a doctorate degree in nursing—

“(A) payments may not exceed $20,000 per calendar year; and

“(B) total payments may not exceed $80,000.

“(d) Breach of agreement.—

“(1) IN GENERAL.—In the case of any agreement made under subsection (a), the individual is liable to the Federal Government for the total amount paid by the Secretary under such agreement, and for interest on such amount at the maximum legal prevailing rate, if the individual fails to meet the agreement terms required under subsection (b).

“(2) WAIVER OR SUSPENSION OF LIABILITY.—In the case of an individual making an agreement for purposes of paragraph (1), the Secretary shall provide for the waiver or suspension of liability under such paragraph if compliance by the individual with the agreement involved is impossible or would involve extreme hardship to the individual or if enforcement of the agreement with respect to the individual would be unconscionable.

“(3) DATE CERTAIN FOR RECOVERY.—Subject to paragraph (2), any amount that the Federal Government is entitled to recover under paragraph (1) shall be paid to the United States not later than the expiration of the 3-year period beginning on the date the United States becomes so entitled.

“(4) AVAILABILITY.—Amounts recovered under paragraph (1) shall be available to the Secretary for making loan repayments under this section and shall remain available for such purpose until expended.

“(e) Eligible individual defined.—For purposes of this section, the term ‘eligible individual’ means an individual who—

“(1) is a United States citizen, national, or lawful permanent resident;

“(2) holds an unencumbered license as a registered nurse; and

“(3) has either already completed a master’s or doctorate nursing program at an accredited school of nursing or is currently enrolled on a full-time or part-time basis in such a program.

“(f) Authorization of appropriations.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary such sums as may be necessary for each of fiscal years 2009 through 2013 to carry out this Act. Such sums shall remain available until expended.”.


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