[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.


[LEGISLATIVE UPDATE] National Nurse Act of 2011Sees Major Accomplishments in 2012


Last December, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) introduced HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011. The bill, co-led by Congressman Peter King (R-NY), garnered eighteen original co-sponsors; the number of co-sponsors is now forty-five! HR 3679 would designate the Chief Nurse Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service to be additionally recognized as the “National Nurse for Public Health.” Thanks to the ongoing and strong support from so many of you, plans are underway for re-introduction in the 113th Congress!

Elizabeth McPhee RN is the newest member of the National Nursing Network Organization’s Board of Directors. The NNNO Advocacy Team currently has 46 members representing 23 states. These individuals have been instrumental in advocating for their own elected officials to support HR 3679 and also in helping to spread the word about this campaign through publications and presentations. Additionally, they have helped to increase the membership of the social networking groups on Facebook (The National Nurse Campaign -over 2550 have signed up) as well as LinkedIn (The National Nursing Network Organization). If you belong to Facebook or LinkedIn, please visit these pages and consider signing up!  You can also follow the NNNO on Twitter @aNationalNurse.

Significant Endorsements in 2012:

More than 115 organizations and prominent individuals and four state legislatures have endorsed HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011. Many of these groups provided individual letters of support that were addressed to Congressional leadership. The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), a state affiliate of the American Nurses Association, unanimously voted to support this legislation because members recognize the tremendous potential the National Nurse Act of 2011 has to advance the health and wellness of our country.

With leadership provided by Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, the NY Assembly overwhelmingly passed K957, a resolution memorializing the NY Congressional delegation to support HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011. “Nurses already incorporate teaching as a cornerstone of nursing care no matter where that care is being delivered. In addition, nursing interventions that promote health are powerful tools for prevention in community settings,” said Assemblywoman Gunther. “Furthermore, the Gallup poll indicates year after year that Americans listen to nurses about their health. We believe the nursing profession has the expertise, the skills and the commitment needed to shift the tide towards prevention and begin to improve our nation’s health at a time when chronic preventable conditions are occurring at astronomical rates.”


Thank you to the Cleveland Clinic’s Clinical Nurse Specialists for inviting NNNO President Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE to keynote their annual conference, Celebrating CNS Practice: The CNS as a Bridge Builder. The hospitality extended by the host committee was amazing. Even after spending a short period of time with this group of nurse leaders, it is evident why the Cleveland Clinic is recognized for its hard work ethic and excellence in the healthcare arena. Innovation and new ideas are encouraged and supported, especially when they are focused on improving the health of our country.

Supporters of HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011 can still listen to an informative story produced by the Center for Health, Media, and Policy last August. Diana Mason PhD, RN, FAAN, the co-director of the Hunter College Center for Health, Media, and Policy in New York interviewed two proponents of the legislation: Susan Sullivan MSN, RN, PHN who serves as the Secretary of the National Nursing Network Organization (NNNO) and Anne Llewellyn, RN-BC, MS, BHSA, CCM, CRRN Editor in Chief Dorland Health and NNNO Advocacy Team Member. Mason, Sullivan, and Llewellyn are in agreement that HR 3679 is timely and claim a National Nurse for Public Health would boost current efforts in the prevention arena by working to strengthen existing programs such as the Medical Reserve Corps and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Campaign.

Thank you to Blog Talk Radio hosts Keith Carlson and Kevin Ross for inviting Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE, President of the National Nursing Network Organization to discuss HR 3679, The National Nurse Act of 2011 on their program last July. There is now a link to an archived version of the show available and all are encouraged to listen to the program. The hosts stated they received many communications from regular listeners who felt as if the topic was timely and significant. They also shared that the show was informative and inspirational.

ELECTED RN: Congresswoman Johnson is the first nurse ever elected to Congress. She continues to be a strong leader for public health. Teri Mills MS, RN, CNE and Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) discuss the language in HR 3679.

Thank you to Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) who wrote an inspiring op/ed to honor and acknowledge our nation’s nurses. The article, Recognizing and Thanking Our Committed Nurses, was published in the Huffington Post during Nurses Week last May.

Congresswoman Johnson stated, “While our country continues to shift towards a nationwide focus on prevention and promotion, I believe that nurses should be standing in the forefront of this reformation. It is for this reason that I propose that we as a Nation designate a National Nurse for Public Health. The National Nurse would function alongside the Surgeon General and focus on health promotion, improving health literacy, and decreasing health disparities.”

Numerous articles about the National Nurse Act in 2012 were included in newsletters that went out to thousands of nurses and key stakeholders. One example, “The quest for a ‘national nurse’ continues” was published in the April issue of AFT (American Federation of Teachers) News that is distributed to 1.5 million members.

Quote for the New Year:

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.—Oprah Winfrey

Accomplishments in 2012

A new year is nearly upon us and we want to take time to reflect on the numerous achievements in 2012 that would have been impossible to achieve without your support. For anyone who wishes to take a trip down memory lane, click on the archived months of 2012 found at http://nationalnurse.blogspot.com to follow our journey.

You are all extremely important in our work to pass legislation for a National Nurse for Public Health – THANK YOU to the all of you who tirelessly provided us with advice, expertise, and support this past year! Wishing you the happiest and healthiest of holidays and look forward to 2013!