President’s Message – January 2010
Happy New Year! As we begin 2010, we are as close as we have ever been to achieving a true, meaningful overhaul of the nation's health care system.
This milestone, whatever its final form, will bring with it tremendous responsibility. As Registered Nurses and Health Care Professionals, we can expect an increasing reliance on our expertise and skills to ensure high quality patient care. And while this might ensure job security, it does not address the workforce gaps we already face, such as the nursing shortage. The need to develop an adequately sized and trained health care workforce to meet the needs of our current patients becomes even more vital with the expectation of millions of newly insured patients over the coming years.
The House health care reform bill makes a number of improvements in nursing programs, including increasing loan repayment benefits, removing the cap on doctoral degree nursing student awards and making nurse-managed health centers eligible for grants. It incorporates funding for public health training programs and includes community-based multidisciplinary teams, which will go a long way towards integrating the wellness and prevention efforts of all health care providers.
We are optimistic that these fundamental components will remain in the final reform bill once the Senate and the House reconcile their respective versions of the legislation. The approved legislation isn't slated to cover the broader population until 2013, so it will take years to experience the reform's full impact. Many individuals, however, will experience an immediate benefit - those cut out of the insurance industry due to pre-existing conditions, without insurance, utilizing COBRA benefits or losing their care.
UNAC/UHCP has actively pushed for effective health care reform for more than twenty years because we believe it is our public charge to advocate for our patients. Even after this current Congress finishes its work, UNAC/UHCP and its members will continue to address ongoing issues with the provision of quality care. It is through our expertise and public trust that we have come this close to health care reform, and we view this major milestone as a key step in moving toward high quality care for all.
Kathy J. Sackman, RN