The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American College of Nurse Practitioners are joining together Jan. 1 to form the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. David Hebert, who will serve as CEO of the combined organization, shared his thoughts on the importance of the coming year for health care and why NPs need to not only play a role but to help lead the changes.
How important is it for nurse practitioners to have a voice in implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and what federal issues will the merged AANP be focused on in the coming year?
Now is a critical time in our nation’s health care system. For the first time in decades, all the players are critically analyzing and changing the mechanisms of how we deliver care, how care will be reimbursed and how — as a nation — we can ensure that the majority of Americans have access to timely, effective care. The foundation of the current health care system is fundamentally shifting. It is imperative that NPs have a lead role at the table and are a voice in all aspects of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
While the NP community has made tremendous progress over the past 28 years, there is still much that needs to be done so that patients have direct access to the full scope of care that NPs can provide and for the health care system to be effective. The ACA offers opportunities with the emphasis on prevention, disease management and access to care. However, unless AANP and NPs are involved at all levels of policy implementation that comes from the ACA, we are destined to end up with regulations and care delivery models that fail to capture the full value of NPs and recreate the barriers that patients, the system and NPs have been encountering since the beginning of the profession.
Are states becoming more open to the role that nurse practitioners can play in addressing shortages of primary care providers that are expected to deepen as health coverage expands?
Yes. Although it’s truly the convergence of multiple factors that have made policymakers comfortable with updating practice laws to close the gap between the care that nurse practitioners are prepared to provide and the care that outdated state laws allow them to deliver. For over four decades, NPs have been providing quality, affordable care. This track record, coupled with the increased awareness of the NP role, the strength — and number — of studies that have documented the consistent safety, quality and cost effectiveness of NPs, along with the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, have demonstrated to policymakers that modernizing state practice laws is a safe and effective way to help address their state’s health care workforce needs.
What health policy questions deserve more attention in 2013 than they’re getting now, whether from the public, policymakers or nurse practitioners?
That’s the BIG question, and it’s one of the core reasons that the two associations combined. With the focus on health care and reforming the health care system, policy conversations are occurring on all levels. Policymakers are looking to address issues ranging from the design of health care platforms like [accountable care organizations], state insurance exchanges and Medicare regulations to public health issues like the management of athletes with head injuries, and individual patient choices on end-of-life care.
As strategic goals are developed in early 2013, AANP will maintain our focus on the issues that impact patient care and the role of the nurse practitioner. We are committed to addressing issues with Medicare regulations, state practice laws and removing artificial barriers that limit patient access to NP services. In 2013, our members will see added focus on hospital privileging, insurance and practice-related issues.
The questions that we are asking our membership are, “How can you bring your expertise to shape policy? And how can AANP help you get personally involved?” NPs see firsthand how policy decisions impact their patients, and policymakers want to hear from us so that better policies can be created. In 2013, NPs that answer these questions will be the ones that shape the course of health care for decades to come.
This question-and-answer session was produced as part of SmartBrief’s 2012 Best Of reports, which capture the year’s most important stories in each industry. Sign up now for AANP SmartBrief to get tomorrow’s report on the top must-read stories for nurse practitioners.
Image courtesy of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.