How Does the ACA Impact Nursing?

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Nurses and the Affordable Care Act

Political views aside, most healthcare professionals agree that there is a need to improve the accessibility to quality care for a large portion of our society. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), while still evolving, is moving the bar forward in ways that make a difference.

Nurses as Advocates of the Affordable Care Act

nurse wearing mask with stethoscope around neck

It’s no surprise that the American Nurses Association (ANA) has long been an advocate for health care reform, citing the benefits of access to care, consumer protections, cost controls and improved health through preventative services.

As the front line of healthcare delivery, nurses are able to play a role in encouraging patients to seek out information on insurance coverage made available through the ACA. This is particularly true for nurses working in facilities that handle a large population of uninsured and underinsured individuals. Patients trust their nurses and nurse practitioners for unbiased opinions and support.

The White House, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Small Business Administration all offer a number of publications and materials to help nurses educate their patients about healthcare plans.

Healthcare Reform Creates Opportunities for Nurses

One of the primary opportunities to emerge for nurses is the demand for nurse practitioners to serve a growing – and insured – patient population. NPs fill an important need in communities where there is a shortage of family medicine physicians.

Many RNs are now pursuing online nurse practitioner degrees to take advantage of this trend, for both the health of their careers and the well-being of local residents. Many patients prefer to see an NP because of a greater focus on whole-person care that encourages appropriate medical decisions and better lifestyle choices.

Right now, only 17 states and the District of Columbia allow nurse practitioners the same autonomy as physicians. These states include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.

This number is expected to increase in the near future as more states review their scope of practice laws for NPs in response to the growing need for primary care providers.