2010’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) didn’t just change healthcare for American citizens. It also created new policies concerning health care professionals, specifically nurses. The Affordable Care Act has been in effect for a few years now, but many people don’t fully understand its implications. Here are a few ways that healthcare reform is changing America’s nursing industry.
Increased Number of Patients
The PPACA’s main goal was to provide affordable healthcare for people who otherwise didn’t have access to it. This means that 32 million people now have insurance who didn’t have it before. Those who may have put off seeking care for mild to severe health problems now seek out clinics and hospitals. This means more patients, but it may not always translate into more staffing. The ACA also focuses on improving care to prevent hospital and clinic readmissions, so these patients may require more time in their appointments.
To prepare for this influx of patients, healthcare reform has increased the amount of grants and funding opportunities for nurses. For example, the Nursing Student Loan Program increased its total loan amount by 30%. There’s also a fellowship program for geriatric training to incentivize a focus on long-term care for our aging population. Geriatric Career Incentive Awards for APRNs also provide money for advanced practice and general nurse education.
Besides funding for soon-to-be nurses, there is also an influx of money for programs that existing nurses can rely on. This eliminates the amount of hoops nurses have to go through to get private funding for new programs.
Nurse-managed health clinics can now get grants to provide primary and preventative care for vulnerable populations (such as rural or urban communities). This means that underserved patient areas can get primary-care treatment from an APRN instead of a primary-care physician. There are no studies showing that one treatment is superior over the other, so this change is beneficial for advanced practice registered nurses.
Now, certified nurse midwives are also paid the same as general practitioners for Medicaid B patients. They are also now put on the preferred providers list, increasing their visibility. This increase in pay softens the patient influx blow on the healthcare industry.
Prevention-Oriented Model vs. Sick-Care Model
Another major shift resulting from the ACA affects the focus of all healthcare professionals. Instead of sick-care model, clinics and hospitals alike are now focused on prevention, instead. This means more chronic care management, school health initiatives, transitional care, and home visits. Nurses have always been about prevention, so existing nurses seem ready for the shift. But some professionals believe that nursing schools need to change curriculum accordingly. As a nurse, you can learn more about the healthcare changes and join in on the dialogue by going back to school. An online masters of science in nursing will give you the rank and knowledge to thrive at this pivotal point in healthcare.