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How the Affordable Care Act Impacts the Nursing Profession

How the Affordable Care Act Impacts the Nursing Profession

Kathy Quan | NursingLink

These and many other financial programs authorized under the Affordable Care Act will help to ensure that there is assistance for individuals in pursuit of a nursing career, to ensure that enough nurses graduate from school and have a place in the workforce.

Some of the focus will be upon home health care. To help meet the needs of the community, the Affordable Care Act provides for up to $1.5 billion in grants to increase visits by home health nurses and social workers to high-risk expectant mothers. This will help reduce the mortality rates and improve outcomes for mothers and babies.

Community-based clinics run by advance practice nurse practitioners have evolved over the past couple of years and the Affordable Care Act has provisions for grants to continue this trend. The use of nurse practitioners in routine office visits and well-patient care has proven to be quite cost-effective over that past couple of decades. In fact, many HMOs require patients to see the NP unless they have a complex medical issue.

As part of the provisions of this law, Medicare will begin imposing new rulings for home health care and hospice care as of January 1, 2011. These rules include requiring face-to-face visits from physicians or nurse practitioners either at the start of care or at specific re-certification time frames for all Medicare patients being care for in these environments. In the practical application of these rules, there will be an immediate and tremendous need for nurse practitioners in this field.

Nurses at all levels from LP/VNs to advance practice nurses will be impacted by the Affordable Care Act not only in these positive ways with resources to advance their education and professional skills, but by the fact that more patients having access to affordable care will dramatically increase patient loads in all areas from clinics and physician’s practice to hospitals to home care and hospice.

Historically, Congress has continually reduced the funding for education and workforce development programs for nurses over the past eight years, at a time when more and more funding was needed. This new act will help us to catch up, but will it be enough?

The recession of 2008 caused many nurses to delay retirement or to return to the workforce, that temporarily stalled the critical shortage of nurses, but as elements of the Patient Protection and affordable Care Act are implemented, the demand for nurses will expand rapidly. Hopefully some of these measures will help the nursing profession meet the needs and challenges that nurses will face in the next ten to twenty years.

Find out more about the Affordable Care Act at www.healthcare.gov.

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Featured Author: Kathy Quan
Kathy Quan, RN, BSN, PHN, has over 30 years of experience in home health and hospice care. Teaching patients, caregivers, and other nurses has always been a passion of hers. She also loves to write and has several websites and blogs for nurses, caregivers, and patients. Kathy has also authored four books about nursing, the health care field and caring for aging parents. Follow Kathy on Facebook and Twitter.



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