Thursday, February 10, 2022

Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding approves $60M to address nursing shortage

Relief Working Group Recommends Funding to Increase Nurses

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding – Health and Human Services Working Group today unanimously approved a number of projects to send to the full committee that would substantially increase the number of nurses in the state.

Funding for the total projects requested equals roughly $60 million.

The working group is chaired by Oklahoma House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, and Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow. Reps. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, and Sens. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, and Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, serve as members of the working group.

The lawmakers issued the following joint statement after today's action:

"As this pandemic has exposed, we have a critical need for more nurses in our state to provide health care services to our citizens. That's true in our busy metropolitan areas, but it's even more dire in our rural areas where we've faced closures of hospitals and clinics and where we often have a shortage of physicians. The combined proposals would increase our number of nursing graduates by more than 1,000 over the next five years and will also address a critical shortage in Certified Nursing Assistants and Certified Medical Assistants in our long-term care facilities."

The working group today heard from the Oklahoma Hospital Association, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Murray State College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Moore-Norman Technology Center, Oklahoma City Community College, Tulsa Community College, Rose State College, Care Providers of Oklahoma, and the Physicians Manpower Training Commission. 

The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding is tasked with supporting the state planning of distributing nearly $1.9 billion in pandemic relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Funds can be used to respond to the public health and economic emergency, provide premium pay to essential workers, replace revenue lost due to the pandemic, and make necessary investments in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure.

The Health and Human Services Working Group is one of four that are vetting projects before they are sent to the full committee.

ARPA funds must be allocated to specific projects by December 2024 and expended by December 2026.

More information about ARPA can be found here:


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