Addressing members of the United Nurses of America union in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said nurses should be in the forefront of health-care reform and said that $50 million in economic stimulus legislation would be available for states to prevent patients and health-care workers from getting infections while in hospitals.
Calling nurses the "pulse" of health care, Sebelius said, "If health care reform is to be a reality, we need you at the front line," the Wall Street Journal reported. It was the newly confirmed health secretary's first speech before a union. United Nurses of America, a branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), has more than 60,000 members, the Journal reported.
Sebelius also told the nurses' group that about half a billion dollars in the stimulus bill is earmarked for education programs for students looking to become nurses. The secretary also said that the swine flu outbreak now appeared to be less severe than originally thought, according to the newspaper.