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Health care policy changes that could bring challenges for nurses

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Health care policy changes could bring challenges for nurses

Planned changes in health care polic could pose challenges for nurses who are likely to see negative consequences for patients and communities.


Examples include adoption of new policies limiting access to health care for Medicaid recipients.

Another is the future the Medicare “donut hole”, or coverage gap, that would leave disabled and elders without prescription drug coverage and was addressed by President Obama as part of the ACA.

The coverage gap is scheduled to be eliminated altogether by 2020, but things could change with the new adminstration.

How should nurses react?

In an effort to guide nurses, Eileen M. Sullivan-Marx, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Erline Perkins McGriff Professor of the New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing (NYU Meyers) asks nurses to look for opportunities in the face of uncertainties.

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In "Public Policy: Using Ethical Frameworks in Times of Transition & Uncertainty," published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, Sullivan-Marx reminds us our “ethical knowledge” and “principles” are the framework for guiding action.

"This period can be fraught with policy mistakes or adoption of new policies that have unintended consequences,” Sullivan-Marx says.

Patients and communities first

No professional nurse needs to be reminded of the primary focus of the ANA’s code of ethics. We place patients first and we are advocates for access to quality health care.

If a patient is not safe because of lack of loss of healthcare services, Sullivan -Marx reminds us: “There are a variety of options, some more palatable than others, that range from advocating for care regardless of the patient's ability to pay, all the way down to discharging the patient with advice on seeking new enrollment opportunities, and to call 911 if care is needed."

With health care policy changes preventive and screening and community services might not be available, making it important for nurses to continue to advocate for patient safety and quality of care per the ANA code of ethics.