Reportedly, in a speech yesterday to nurses with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), brand new Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the group that if the Obama administration is to “make health reform a reality, we need nurses at the forefront of the effort.”
Sounds good, and it’s on point with Obama’s messages to nurses during his campaign.
So far, the Obama team has been consistent with its positions on health care reform. But as we learned from the Clintons’ efforts, talk doesn’t always translate into reality. Dare we hope that this time—with nurse Mary Wakefield as administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); a Democratic-controlled Congress; data like we’ve never had before linking nurses to quality, cost-effective health outcomes; and a population at the end of its rope—maybe, just maybe Congress will get it right? Or will the powerful insurance and medical lobbyists prevail?—Shawn Kennedy, AJN editorial director
(AJN editor-in-chief Diana Mason adds this comment: Sebelius knows that nurses are key to reforming health care and reducing health care disparities. We have an infrastructure of childbirthing centers, community nursing centers, convenient care clinics, and other models of care that can be ramped up if Congress and states will remove barriers to full utilization, fair payment, and credentialling of nurses, including permitting them to head medical homes when necessary.)