Seeds of Change? Nurses Want Prescribing Power When It Comes to Health Care Reform

"Buck Up," by zenera / via Flickr.

"Buck Up," by zenera / via Flickr.

According to a useful overview by the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, nurses, insurers, and others are fighting to be included in the health care reform debate. We know the insurers can take care of themselves, so let’s focus on the nurses:

Hundreds of nurses last week rallied on Capitol Hill in an attempt to have their voices and opinions on health care reform heard and included as lawmakers begin to draft legislation, Roll Call reports. The rally included the California Nurses Association –  National Nurses Organizing Committee, the American Academy of Nursing, the American Nurses Association and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. According to Roll Call, some of the groups disagree on the details of reform, including whether reform should include a single-payer system, but are united in their effort to be included in discussions on overhaul legislation. Michelle Artz, a lobbyist for ANA, said, “We want to make sure this isn’t a physician-centric dialogue” (Ackley, Roll Call, 5/18).

As far as I know, the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) wasn’t actually present at that rally. But what matters is that there is growing recognition that effective health care reform will not happen without the involvement of nurses. The AAN has been educating policymakers about nurse-led models of care and the need to remove the barriers to this care, including opening up criteria for who can lead a medical home (right now, you have to be a physician to qualify under the criteria set by NCQU, the National Committee on Quality Assurance).

As I recently wrote, the AAN held a briefing on May 8th that focused on models of care that are 1) already in place  and 2) could be ramped up as we work to reform the health care delivery system. I’ve been involved with the Academy’s work and know that it is focused on how nurses can help to transform health care to do a better job of providing people with the care they really need to live healthier lives.

The dialogue needs to be patient-centric, not provider-centric, no matter who the provider is. Are you part of the debate? If not, why not? If you are, what are you recommending for how to reform health care?

Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, AJN editor-in-chief

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

One Comment

  1. doctorblue May 20, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    I agree health care should be patient-centric and that nurses should have a bigger role in the debate. The biggest change I’d like to see, however, deals with my inability to even get an appointment with a gastrointestinal surgeon without a doctor’s referral. I became disabled being referred from one wrong specialist to the next because none of the doctors could decide which was responsible for a diagnosis or had time to read my test results. My requests and pleas were deaf eared by specialists who had no clue about my illnesses and thus they refused to refer me for appropriate care. The specialists I need to see won’t see me without a referral despite having test results proving the need. Insurance is not the issue here. I’m told specialists and surgeons don’t believe a patient is capable of determining his own care needs. Details on my experiences are on my blog

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