Nurses and the Health Care Reform

When the Health Care Reform Bill was signed into law by President Obama on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, it signaled a new beginning for nurse-led health care. HR 3590, as the package is called, capitalizes on the ability of nurse practitioners to provide both the primary and the preventative care. This health care reform package includes an unprecedented investment in nurse-led health clinics.

Nurse managed health clinics will be crucial to delivering quality health care where primary care physicians are in short supply. These nurse managed health centers, called NMHC’s, are led by advanced practice nurses also known as nurse practitioners. The NMHC’s provide primary care and disease prevention services to people who are least likely to be receiving ongoing quality health care. This population includes the uninsured, underinsured, poverty stricken or members of all racial and ethnic minority groups.

Experts have been repeatedly expressing concern about the nation’s supply of primary care physicians and its ability to meet the needs of a nation with Universal Health Care. The health care reform will extend coverage to as many as 30 million uninsured Americans which will put a great strain on our present health care system. “The current shortage of primary care physicians is likely to increase during the next twenty years, resulting in a shortage of as many as 44,000 physicians in the fields of general internal medicine and family medicine by the year 2025,” says Tina Hansen-Turton, MGA, JD, Chief Executive Officer of the National Nursing Centers Consortium (NNCC). “NNCC applaud the passage of health care reform and looks forward to working with the government to ensure a smooth implementation process.”

Another group that advocates for health care reform is the American Nursing Association (ANA). For more than twenty years, the ANA has been cheering on the health care reforms that will guarantee quality health care for all. With rising costs for healthcare and the increasing numbers of people that are going without health insurance, the national consensus can agree that the health care system is broken as is and needs to be fixed. Any reasonable solution must ensure that the supply of nurses is adequate to make universal access to care a reality. The American Nursing Association proudly represents the nursing profession at health care summits and forums. The ANA communicates with lawmakers, the Obama Administration and the media to deliver nursing’s message and develop solutions that make sense for everyone.

Nurses, along with the rest of the country, will have to wait and see what comes from this new health care package. But everyone can agree that nurses will be an integral part of the country’s health care and its success.

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