Health Leaders Applaud Medicare’s First Initiative to Train More Highly Skilled Nurses

    • July 30, 2012

Washington, D.C.—Leaders from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action applaud today’s launch of a major new effort in which Medicare will, for the first time, support the training of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the five hospitals that will participate in the Medicare Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration this afternoon. The leaders called it a significant advance that can improve the accessibility, quality, and value of health care for Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans.

“This announcement marks a historic moment of investment in the crucial and growing role of nurses in our health care system,” says Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA. “With 8,000 baby boomers turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare daily, patients everywhere can benefit from the expertise of advanced practice nurses and the expanded access to care they potentially can provide. The decision to extend Medicare funding to nurses recognizes the urgent need to expand the workforce to care for the growing population of Medicare recipients.”

The 4-year, $200 million effort was created as part of the Affordable Care Act and will boost the number of highly skilled APRNS (nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse specialists) by reimbursing training costs for five networks of hospitals, nursing schools, and community-based clinics and health centers. The APRNs trained through this program will be equipped with the skills necessary to care for Medicare beneficiaries and provide primary and preventive care—lynchpins to improving consumer value and holding down health care costs.

Today, the Medicare program is facing an aging population with an increasing number of chronic conditions, combined with growing shortages of health professionals. These Americans need safe and effective care that starts with well-coordinated primary and preventive care and continues with transitional care, chronic care management, and effective acute care services in all settings—from hospitals to community health centers, convenient care clinics to home care.

“This relatively modest investment will pay big dividends for consumers by preparing more highly skilled nurses to provide care when and where it is needed. These new health professionals will improve access to crucial primary, preventive, and transitional care across a range of settings—from the hospital, to the home, to convenient care clinics,” says Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“This is a much-needed boost for our health care workforce that will increase access to crucial primary care, improve quality, reduce medical errors, and lower costs.”

The demonstration program also furthers the goals of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, commissioned to promote the implementation of the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This landmark report called for more Medicare funding to increase the numbers of APRNs who are prepared to care for a 21st century health care consumer.

Studies demonstrate that, for more than 40 years, consumers have been receiving safe and effective health care from APRNs. There is no difference between outcomes of primary care delivered by a nurse practitioner and those delivered by a physician. The evidence shows that nurse practitioners can reduce the number of hospital days for patients, resulting in a win-win for payers as well as patients and their families. Further, when APRNs deliver basic primary care, physicians—already in short supply—are free to focus on providing care to patients with more complex medical needs.


About the Campaign for Action
The Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action envisions a health care system where all Americans have access to high-quality care, with nurses contributing to the full extent of their capabilities. The campaign is coordinated through the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and includes 49 state Action Coalitions and a wide range of health care professionals, consumer advocates, policy-makers and the business, academic, and philanthropic communities.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measureable, and timely change. For 40 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Follow the Foundation on Twitter or Facebook.

About AARP
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937