Might Health Care Reform Happen? And What Will It Mean for Nurses?

By Shawn Kennedy, AJN editorial director/interim editor-in-chief

The final push towards the staircase.../ caspermoller, via Flickr

Sometime in the next few days, Congress may bring the health care reform issue to a final vote and even a resolution of sorts, though one never knows what new twists may occur before then. I can’t even imagine what will occupy the news if it really does pass. (Philandering professional athletes and pilfering politicians better beware as newspapers seek new headlines.) 

Many Americans are calling their legislators to tell them what they want and don’t want. At the same time, many remain confused by the complexity of the legislative process as well as the particulars of the legislation. The final push received a boost this week from projections by the Congressional Budget Office that the bill would cut the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next two decades. 

As nurses, we need to be knowledgeable and concerned with how health care will shape up—we’ll be delivering it. For information on the current bills under consideration, here’s two accessible sources: the Washington Post has a comparison of what the already passed Senate bill and the reconciliation version under consideration by the House include; the New York Times provides a pdf of the House bill.

Here’s a short list of provisions related to nursing likely to be in a final bill (as we noted in a post back in December about a useful ANA chart comparing House and Senate bills at the time):

  • increased financial support for nursing recruitment and advanced education
  • increased funding for graduate education for nursing faculty
  • increased funding for education for students who will practice in underserved areas
  • establishment of a Public Health Workforce Corps
  • increased Medicare reimbursement rates for advanced practice nurses, including nurse–midwives
  • pilot programs to provide reimbursement under Medicare for nurse practitioners to create or lead “medical homes”
  • increased reimbursement to school-based health clinics under Medicaid

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Layla April 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Thank you! So very helpful–clear information about the implications of the new legislation on the nursing profession is needed & welcome.

  2. […] be any way around it. To see a list of the benefits to nurses from this legislation, read my more recent post here.)  […]

  3. Shawn March 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    One thing that puzzles me: why is posting information seen as “left-wing?” Would someone point out where in this post I lean for or against the legislation?

  4. jm March 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Editor’s note: As sometimes happens, our Facebook readers feel a bit less self-conscious about giving us their opinions than do our blog readers. Since we post links to many of our blog posts, including this one, over at our Facebook page, we may as well poach a few of the comments we’ve gotten so far over there on this post and paste them in here, for those who are interested. Here goes (names removed, so as not to presume on anyone’s intentions):

    –I so hope so! ♥

    –i so hope not! i thought this was a publication about nursing, not an outlet for the left wing socialist agenda.

    –i agree Robert! Socialist medicine doesn’t belong in America!!!

    –Something needs to change and although it’s not perfect, its a start… I for one, am for covering everyone- call it Socialized Medicine if you must but it makes more sense than what we are doing now. Everyone gets care now, and we all are paying for it in blood. If you are a healthcare provider you see it everyday. If the folks against this bill had come up with something to work with instead of just saying “NO” then maybe I’d take them more seriously.

    –I too, am for covering everyone. I say we keep at this reform wrangling until it works and various items in the bill are vetted to the point where it makes enough sense to put it into effect. I think we need to be a little bit patient and see the process through.

    –We’ve lived in several different countries..and so far I think the UK system is best….basic healthcare for everyone (like Canada), BUT they also allow private insurance care (like the US)…it’s the best of both…..

  5. Brigitte March 19, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Pleasant prospects.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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