NAHN endorses the expansion of patient access to quality health care

July 2009

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the undersigned nursing organizations, we fundamentally believe that Congress and the Administration must act now to expand patients’ access to affordable, high-quality healthcare coverage by reforming the current system. As a forum for professional nursing and related organizations that collaborates on a wide spectrum of issues, the Nursing Community understands the need to invest in a system that is patient-centered, comprehensive, affordable, accessible, and delivers the quality of care all people in America deserve. We are dedicated stakeholders in the efforts to transform our healthcare system and stand ready to work with Congress and the Administration to move our nation towards meaningful reform.

The 2.9 million Registered Nurses (RNs) in the United States are the largest group of healthcare professionals and are involved in every aspect of health care. RNs play an essential role in providing patients access to care in hospitals, clinics, community health centers, schools, ambulatory surgery centers, long term care facilities, and many other healthcare settings. Nurses provide health services that span the entire spectrum of care from prevention to hospice. Nurses represent the public interest, not a special interest. The contributions made by the practice and science of nursing are significant, and in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, can lead to positive change.

In recent months, Congress and the Administration have discussed specific reforms to the system and highlighted the role nurses will play in implementing healthcare reform legislation. We agree that expanding the nurse workforce and enhancing the nursing educational system to increase student capacity is vitally important to ensuring patients have access to care. Also, the Nursing Community agrees with Congress’ and the Administration’s interest in developing a healthcare system where reimbursement is linked to quality health outcomes. We recognize that Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) already provide the high quality, cost-effective care that is necessary to reform the healthcare system and understand that utilizing APRNs to their full scope of practice will cut costs while simultaneously increasing access. Furthermore, we are also interested in the efforts to create a strong prevention and wellness system through an investment in public health. While conversations are still occurring to ensure that nurses and APRNs are integral players in the reformed healthcare system, we are optimistic that these discussions will yield provisions that nurses can support.

Nurses are committed to the principle that all persons are entitled to readily accessible and affordable, quality health care services. Building the new healthcare environment requires drawing on the full complement of expertise gained from broad-based, inter-professional, and consumer partnerships. We hope that Congress and the Administration will continue their efforts towards reforming the healthcare system and work collaboratively with all vested stakeholders—including nurses—as we believe that the time for reform is now. Nursing policy experts and leaders are available to further discuss healthcare reform.

Sincerely,

National Association of Hispanic Nurses

Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses

American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nursing

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners

American Academy of Nursing

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

American Association of Critical-Care Nurses

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

American Association of Occupational Health Nurses

American College of Nurse-Midwives

American Nurses Association

American Organization of Nurse Executives

American Psychiatric Nurses Association

American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses

Association of Community Health Nursing Educators

Association of Nurses in AIDS Care

Association of periOperative Registered Nurses

Association of State and Territorial Directors of Nursing

Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses

Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association

Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association

Infusion Nurses Society

International Society of Nurses in Genetics

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists

National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners

National Association of Registered Nurse First Assistants

National Association of School Nurses

National Black Nurses Association

National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations

National Nursing Centers Consortium

National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties

National Student Nurses’ Association, Inc.

Nursing Organization of Veterans Affairs

Oncology Nursing Society

Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association

Public Health Nursing Section, American Public Health Association

RN First Assistants Policy & Advocacy Coalition

Society of Urologic Nurses and Associates

Wound Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society

Quad Council of Public Health Nursing Organizations