,,,'Unknowns' Impacting State Goals
But passing national healthcare reform legislation has become a heavy burden on both state and national legislators. While state nursing associations in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma, have goals in place, the implementation of each state's healthcare legislation and reformation will ultimately depend on the details of a national reform program.
"Because of the current status of the national healthcare reform, there is still too much unknown regarding the actions that the state (of Oklahoma) might take," said Jane Nelson, CAE, executive director, Oklahoma Nurses Association (ONA). "Healthcare reform is still a precarious issue."
Some of ONA's legislative priorities include upholding the scope of practice of all nurses-LPN, RN and APN, supporting legislative efforts to improve Oklahoma's health status, supporting nurse education and faculty, and accessing and maintaining funds for all health services, Nelson said."Where healthcare reform will be going in this country at this point is certainly open for interpretation," said Jordan. "However, the driving forces behind healthcare reform must be addressed by whatever political direction or solution is proposed."
While the Obama administration's goal is to reshape the country's healthcare system by expanding health coverage and reducing costs, those efforts will need substantial funding, considering $2.5 trillion was spent on healthcare last year and nearly 46 million Americans still lack coverage, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Jordan identified those "driving forces" as those that could stabilize or reduce the cost of healthcare and cover the nation's uninsured who often seek primary care in emergency departments.
'Filling the Gap' for Primary Care
Another issue involves filling healthcare professional vacancies to care for America's aging population. With the majority of the country continuing to cope with a shortage of nurses, as well as physicians, Jordan sees APNs playing a vital role in filling the gap.
"Texas has the highest rate of uninsured in the nation - estimated to be as high as 44 percent of the state's 25 million residents," said Jordan. "In Texas, this could create a startling need for approximately 5,000 additional APNs."
Jean Zehler, MSE, RN-BC, NE-BC, president, Arkansas Nurses Association (ARNA) agrees. "The sustainability of the nursing workforce must address workplace safety, and APNs as independent primary care providers with full/direct reimbursement," she added.
ARNA's position on healthcare reform includes the delivery of primary healthcare in community-based settings, and using the most cost-effective providers and therapeutic options in the most appropriate settings, Zehler said....