WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), along with U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), today wrote to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), requesting that any future legislative package, including FY 2021 appropriations, healthcare extenders or COVID-19 emergency relief, ensures that our nation’s 120 hospital-based nursing schools don’t face potentially devastating cuts during a deadly pandemic that has taken the lives of over 290,000 Americans.

In part, the Senators wrote: “Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was facing a nursing shortage, but now, many of our hospitals and health systems are especially strained. Nurses are working longer hours, seeing more patients and facing greater risks of illness than usual, highlighting the need for a strong nursing education and training pipeline. There are over a hundred hospital-based nursing schools that contribute to that pipeline, and these schools receive pass-through funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).”

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They continued: “It is imperative that we continue to support the Nation’s current – and future – nursing workforce. These sudden funding cuts could put our ability to respond to not only COVID-19, but the next pandemic, in jeopardy. We therefore urge you to work together to ensure the future of hospital-based nursing schools, its employees and graduating nurses, who have done so much for this country.”

Duckworth penned an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times in October with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka about the importance of supporting our frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also introduced bipartisan legislation in May to create a COVID-19 Victim Compensation Fund for essential workers who perish as a result of their decision to go back to work to help other and has urged Senate Leaders to protect the health, safety and financial security of Illinois’s essential workers in the next COVID-19 relief bill. Throughout this public health crisis, Duckworth has been in contact with CEOs and leaders of Illinois hospitals and community health center leaders from across the state.

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