NEW YORK NURSE: December 2009
by Karen A. Ballard, MA, RN, President
Greetings to all during this holiday season! I hope that the happiness and peace of the season bring joy, comfort, and health to all.
In addition to the holidays, this December brings us the nation’s first real attempt to make affordable, safe, quality health care accessible to all. It is a special and challenging time – a potential “profile in courage” for legislators and healthcare advocates.
During this time when many of us are turning our thoughts towards family, friends, shopping, and celebrating the holidays, it is a challenge to concentrate on healthcare reform. But, it is critical that we do so!
The bills being considered in Congress clearly represent movement toward much-needed reform for our nation’s healthcare system. How we deliver health care, who has access to that care, and how it will be financed is going to change in our professional lifetime! And nurses have been involved in the process…much as they were with previous issues such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, workers’ rights, minimum wage, workplace safety, and patients’ rights.
American Nurses Association President Rebecca Patton and ANA staff have met with members of the administration who are working on crafting and passing healthcare reform legislation. ANA has supported a public plan option and has worked to ensure that there are provisions that advance nursing practice. It also has monitored legislation to prevent language that would create barriers to nursing care. This has been a monumental undertaking!
ANA has analyzed both the House bill (Affordable Health Care for America Act) and Senate bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), highlighting the many provisions that affect the nursing profession.
Both bills contain provisions that address mandatory funding for nursing workforce programs and workforce diversity grants; nurse-managed health centers; advanced nursing education; nurse retention grants; nursing student loan, scholarship and repayment programs; nurse faculty loan programs; and a new Public Health Workforce Corps. ANA also has advocated for provider-neutral language in both bills and for the inclusion of advanced practice RNs in any demonstration or pilot projects that address primary care.
The complete analysis is available at www.nursing world.org by clicking on “Team for Health Care Reform.”
While you’re at the ANA website, consider joining the team. This is an issue for all nurses, not just the hardworking staff of ANA and NYSNA. We are all committed to achieving health care for all now, not later and to making the nation’s “sick care system” into a true and viable “healthcare system.” Please take the time to help bring this “gift” to the millions that have no access or limited access to health care in this great nation.