[LEGISLATIVE UPDATE] Nurses Take Their Voices to the Hill

This past week as the Supreme Court listened to oral arguments from both sides of the issues on the fate of the Affordable Care Act, a grassroots group of nurses visited with more than 85 members of the House of Representatives to seek support for HR 3679: National Nurse Act of 2011.

The Bill is sponsored by Eddie Bernice Johnson, a congresswoman from Texas and first nurse elected to the House of Representatives, and Peter King, a congressman from New York. The Bill has bipartisan support currently, but we are working to gain more in order to have the Bill moved to the House floor. We are also working on companion legislation for the Senate, which is part of the legislative process to have a Bill passed and signed into law.
In case you are not familiar with the bill, here is a link. In short, this is a simple bill that elevates the Chief Nurse Officer position of the U.S. Public Health Services from part time to full time status and renames the position to be known as the National Nurse for Public Health; one goal is to raise visibility in order to promote wellness and emphasize disease prevention. In case you are not familiar with the current role of the Chief Nurse, here is a link to learn more.
Each Representative’s office we visited found the bill something that they would be willing to support, but wanted to hear from their constituents (nurses, case managers, disease managers and others) that they supported the bill. We were told over and over again, most decisions to support bills are made when Representatives hear from citizens in their districts. As a result, I am reaching out to you to be part of this grassroots effort by reviewing the bill and taking action by writing to your member of Congress and show your support. The National Nurse website has all the materials you need to locate your member of Congress and a sample letter you can use to show your support.
ImageThis Bill should be welcome news for each case manager and others who work in care coordination across the care continuum, as the goal of the bill would provide support for what each of you do every day in coordinating care, educating and empowering consumers to understand the importance of improving their health and healthcare in order to prevent chronic conditions or better manage chronic conditions in order to prevent avoidable exacerbation and readmission, thus improving their quality of life and lowering escalating healthcare costs.

We won’t know the fate of how the Supreme Court Judges will rule on the Affordable Care Act until late June. Yet regardless of their decisions, the health industry, both payers and providers, are moving forward with implementing new models of care that are transforming the healthcare landscape because we have to find ways to ensure access, improve the quality of care and contain the cost of healthcare in every sector of the system. House Bill HR 3679: National Nurse Act of 2011 is one of the tools that can support these efforts.

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This entry was posted in Events in Nursing, 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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