[LEGISLATIVE UPDATE] National Nurse Initiative Gains Steam on Capitol Hill

Today, with the focus on prevention, education, consumer empowerment and engagement as the keys to containing escalating healthcare costs, all eyes are turning to nurses. Why, you ask? Because nurses are the most trusted and largest segment of the healthcare workforce, numbering 3.1 million registered nurses throughout the United States.Image

Currently, there is a growing grassroots effort that will provide leadership and strengthen efforts by nurses in every community to assist in the nationwide paradigm shift to prevention and wellness, which will empower consumers to be active in their care and contain escalating healthcare costs. The National Nurse for Public Health is being spearheaded by The National Nursing Network Organization, a volunteer advocacy group whose members have worked since 2006 to spread the word on the effort and gain support from consumers, healthcare professionals, national organizations and members of Congress.
Last week, I joined a dynamic group of nurses in Washington, D.C., to visit members of the U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate to raise awareness and support for H.R.485 the National Nurse Act of 2013. As a team, we visited 75 legislative aides to explain the bill, ask for support and answer questions. The reception was positive and we are hoping to add to the growing number of supporters who have signed on for this important effort.
The Bill has four main components:
  • The bill designates the Chief Nurse Officer position in the United States Public Health Services to be uniquely known as the National Nurse for Public Health. Doing so will make the Chief Nurse a recognizable leader in health promotion and disease prevention, elevate nursing’s influence and prominence, better utilize the expertise of nurses, and serve a vital function in our current climate of health care reform.
  • The bill increases the current Chief Nurse Office position of the United States Public Health Service from part time to full time.
  • The bill ranks the position in parity with the uniformed Chief Nurse Officers who serve on the Federal Nurse Council (Army, Navy, Air Force, and Veterans Administration). Currently the Chief Nurse Office is not the same grade.
  • The bill calls for the Chief Nurse Office of the United States Public Health Services/ National Nurse for Public Health to engage willing nurses, retirees, students, and other health professionals to participate in and replicate successful health promotion programs.
This is the ideal time to make a National Nurse for Public Health a reality. As nurses, case managers and other members of the care coordination team know the numbers of preventable illnesses and chronic diseases with their high rates of complications and exacerbations are costing taxpayers billions of dollars in Medicare and Medicaid expenses. Without more efforts on prevention, these costs will continue to soar at alarming rates. Nurses, who historically have answered the call to respond when needed to avert health crises, are willing to become active advocates for prevention in their local communities. They understand that prevention is cost effective, reduces suffering, and can be implemented when society is determined to make needed changes.
This legislation is aligned with the mission of the Office of the Surgeon General, “promoting, protecting, and advancing the nation’s health” and the National Prevention Strategy.  HR 485 has strong bipartisan support in Congress and has been endorsed by more than 110 national, state and regional organizations, as well as prominent individuals. Four state legislatures have overwhelmingly passed resolutions urging Congress to pass this legislation.
It should be known that there is no duplication of services or cost involved in this Bill. It is simply making the existing position of the Chief Nurse full time and visible. This point is critical for both Democrats and Republicans  in the House and Senate as there is no tolerance for any bills that may be perceived as duplicative or have cost associated with them.

Nurses make key contributions on behalf of the nation’s health each and every day. I ask that you support HR 485 The National Nurse Act of 2013 because it is of critical importance to make sure the voice of nursing continues at the federal policy table, as well as the public arena, especially in our local communities, to help combat the epidemic of chronic preventable conditions that are sweeping our country. Take time today to visit the National Nurse Network websites to gain a better understanding of the Bill and access the tools that will help you be part of this dynamic grassroots movement

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This entry was posted in Legislative Advocacy and tagged , , , , by Heather Swift. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heather Swift

Heather “Swifty” Swift has been Kicking mAss since 1998. At 28 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer as a recently single mom with two small babies on her hip. After completing treatment with the thought that cancer was in her rear view mirror she worked, locally, as a volunteer for Ithaca Breast Cancer Alliance doing community outreach to be certain that no one faced cancer alone. In 2005, she had a secondary diagnosis of breast cancer and tested positive for the BRCA2 mutation, which only amped up her commitment to creating positive change and to becoming a strong and effective advocate for the young adult cancer community. Now, at age 42, Swifty, her partner, Brian, and her two teenage children work together locally, nationally and internationally to advocate for change. Swifty regularly meets with legislators to work towards tangible change in health care, legislation that addresses the needs of cancer patients, care-partners, and families. She works directly with clinicians, medical/nursing students, youth & college students, cancer support organizations and others to educate them about the special needs of young adults living with a cancer diagnosis. Swifty is passionate about providing support by connecting people living with cancer to resources, to other cancer survivors, and to mobilizing and training individuals and groups to find their inner advocate. Swifty currently works with a number of amazing, hand-selected organizations, which provide her with opportunities to educate, to advocate, and to change the conversation about cancer and to work to bring an end to the disease. A few include: LiveSTRONG, mAss Kickers, Imerman Angels, National Breast Cancer Coalition, Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Dusty Showers & The Second Basemen, and Stupid Cancer. Swifty is an oncology nursing student in upstate New York, loves time with her family, paddling sports, and peanut butter. She is a Virgo, but not the really anal-retentive type. Her strange fascination with superheroes makes her popular in geek circles, but it can be endearing. Swifty will be riding a llama across Oregon in July of 2012 and really does believe we can achieve and end to cancer and in world peace. Motto: Never Give Up! Favorite quote: “Our own life has to be our message.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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