Dec 7 2012
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What the Election Means for Health and Health Care… A Glimpse into the Future

Eileene Shake, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, is CEO of the Foundation for Nursing Excellence. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Human Capital Blog asked scholars and experts to consider what the election results will mean for health and health care in the United States.

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The 2012 election is over and now, as health care leaders, we are trying to figure out how to move forward with implementing the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA).  Yes, there will be an influx of Americans entering the health care system who did not have access to health care in the past. The impact on nursing will be significant as nurses are being recognized as important to providing care to the large number of new patients entering the system.  Nurses will be key players working on interdisciplinary teams to redesign how health care is delivered. Nurses and advanced practice nurses will need to practice to the full extent of their education in order to care for the increased number of citizens entering the health care system.

There will be less resistance to implementing the ACA and more emphasis will be placed on how to implement it.  Hospitals are already putting processes in place to reduce readmission rates for patients with chronic disease.  New programs are being implemented to manage health care after the patient is discharged to reduce readmission rates. Nurses are following up with patients to ensure they are taking their medications, checking their blood pressure, and following their therapeutic diets. It is important to note that there will still be some resistance to implementing the ACA from states that do not feel they can afford to pay for the health care program. 

Currently there are not enough health care providers to care for the large projected influx of new patients.  Therefore, health care providers and organizations are concentrating on how to design a new health care system that can handle a larger volume of patients. The cost of health care will escalate due to the demand for care. The economics law of supply and demand informs us that if demand increases and supply stays the same, that will drive up cost of goods. 

I would ask President Obama and congressional leaders to set the following three priorities for the next few years.

·         Provide funding to support educational programs that prepare more primary care physicians and advanced practice nurses

·         Provide funding for establishing more rural health clinics that offer preventive health care services including mental health screenings

·         Provide funding to support school-based health clinics

First Lady Michelle Obama has been a strong advocate for reducing childhood obesity and the need exists for her to now become a champion to implement school-based health clinics. I recently attend the NC School Health Alliance conference and heard stories from principals describing how school-based health clinics had saved lives, reduced cost of health care and time lost from work, and reduced emergency room visits.  The need exists to establish more of these clinics as they can improve access to care, provide early intervention, and reduce overall health care costs.  

In summary we must explore how to redesign the delivery of health care and implement new creative ways of delivering care. It will take interdisciplinary teams, including all health care professionals working together, to provide high quality patient care.  Health care providers need the President and congressional leaders to support programs that will empower them to provide high quality patient care and improve access to care.

See other posts in these series here and here.

Tags: Affordable Care Act (ACA), Workforce issues, Medically underserved areas, Behavioral/mental health, School-based health centers, Access and barriers to care, Interprofessional collaboration, Nurses, Human Capital, Voices from the Field, Nursing