Consumers, Insurers, Businesses and Health Care Providers Tackle the Nursing Shortage

    • February 22, 2009

The Center to Champion Nursing in America today announced the formation of the Champion Nursing Coalition, a diverse group of organizations representing consumers, insurers, businesses, health care providers and others committed to working together to educate Americans about the nation’s severe nursing shortage and its impact on health care quality, access and cost. At a Capitol Hill breakfast and panel discussion the organizations—including AARP, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the National Education Association, Verizon and others—pledged to spread the urgent message that finding solutions to the nursing shortage is essential to meaningful health care reform.

“Ending the nursing shortage is a key part of reforming our health system so every American has access to quality, affordable care,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “The diverse organizations of this coalition will raise awareness of the significant role nurses play in keeping us healthy and the dangerous consequences the shortage is creating.”

The Center to Champion Nursing in America, a joint initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), was created to address the alarming shortage of nurses in the United States, which is projected to reach 500,000 by 2025. Despite this projection, the nation’s nursing schools are unable to educate the nurses needed now and in the future because of major faculty and resource shortages. Each year, tens of thousands of qualified applicants are turned away from nursing schools—99,000 in 2008, according to the National League for Nursing.

“Nursing is an integral part of the health care system and solving the nursing shortage crisis is key to improving the health of our nation,” said John L. Lumpkin, M.D., M.P.H., RWJF senior vice president and director of the Health Care Group. “The Champion Nursing Coalition, with members from all sectors of our society, will provide the strong support needed to expand the ranks of nurses—so that when we or someone we love need professional nursing care, it will be available.”

Members of the Champion Nursing Coalition have committed to educate their members and constituents about the nursing shortage and the importance of addressing it as a part of comprehensive health reform. The coalition is a first-of-its-kind effort to link consumers, purchasers and non-nursing providers of health care in support of commonsense, common ground solutions to the U.S. nursing shortage.

Founding members of the Champion Nursing Coalition are:

  • AARP
  • Alzheimer’s Association
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
  • American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
  • American Health Care Association
  • American Hospital Association
  • American Public Health Association
  • America’s Health Insurance Plans
  • Consumers Advancing Patient Safety
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • Easter Seals
  • Families USA
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • National Association of Community Health Centers
  • National Association for Home Care and Hospice
  • National Business Coalition on Health
  • National Business Group on Health
  • National Education Association
  • National Partnership for Women and Families
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Verizon

“Addressing the shortage of nurses and nurse educators is fundamental to the health of the nation and the prospects for health reform to succeed,” said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni. “We stand ready to work with other stakeholders to increase the number of available nursing professionals whose counsel can be sought in making systems change, who will care for patients throughout all stages of their lives and health, and who will engage the population in health education, prevention, health promotion and chronic care management,” she said.

“The American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living is committed to fostering a stable and well-prepared workforce, because consumers deserve the highest quality long term care and services, and caregivers deserve positive and supportive work environments,” stated Bruce Yarwood, president and CEO of AHCA/NCAL. “With nearly 110,000 current caregiving vacancies in nursing facilities nationwide, it is critical that this crisis be addressed immediately for those who need care now, and in the future.”

Daniel E. Smith, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network added, “Nurses are on the front lines managing all aspects of care for cancer patients. Addressing the nursing shortage now is essential to make sure that patients and survivors have access to quality cancer care.”

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