HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell Confirmed by U.S. Senate On Tuesday, June 5, the United States Senate voted 78-17 to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary. Secretary Burwell made a concerted effort to gather support from both parties, holding face-to-face and phone meetings with 70 Senators and pledging to be transparent and accessible — remarks that won over a number of Republican Senators. Secretary Burwell’s background in nonpartisan organizations like the Walmart Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation also helped in her effort to gather bipartisan support. AANP will work with Secretary Burwell and the staff at HHS to continue to inform them of the important role nurse practitioners play in the American health care system and of the need to reduce barriers to practice that currently exist at the federal level.
Congress and VA Department Continue to Move Forward Last week continued to be a busy week for the VA Department both on Capitol Hill and within the department. On Capitol Hill, the week ended with Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and John McCain (R-AZ) crafting a compromise piece of legislation that they believe will help the VA treat veterans in a more timely fashion. While the legislation hasn’t been released publicly, it is believed to include the following:
A two-year trial program that would allow veterans to seek private health care if they reside more than 40 miles from a VA facility or have been waiting more than 30 days for treatment
The construction of 26 medical facilities in 18 states
Direction for $500 million in unspent funds to be used for hiring more health care providers