How nurse practitioners can help improve care and access to services

Access to care remains the cornerstone of most healthcare decisions. So what can be done to expand services?

How do you think the industry has moved forward in improving access in recent years?

April Capu: Access to health care is still a major problem throughout the country. More than 90 million Americans do not have access to primary health care, according to the Office of Health Resources and Services. And that’s just the first aid. Nurse practitioners help fill this gap: more than 90% of NPs are educated and trained in primary care. … Many work in the countryside.

Janet Thornton: In the run-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were many fears that people would lose insurance. And they really didn’t work out. From our perspective, we’re actually seeing pretty strong coverage and relatively low uninsured rates compared to what we’ve seen in the past. … Employer-provided insurance, the backbone of coverage in this country, remains fairly strong.

What political issues would you like to resolve in the coming year?

Capu: Full practice rights for nurse practitioners are on the legislative agenda in many states. Arizona is a great example of what can be achieved. Five years after the transition to full in-state practice, the NP workforce doubled, with a 70% increase in NPs in rural areas. In Congress, the bipartisan Nurse Care Improvement and Access Act (I CAN) has some really important access-related components.

Thornton: We launched an initiative called Healthier People Through Healthier Markets. We call this our competition agenda, which we will truly champion in 2023. It addresses a number of issues that directly affect affordability, such as hospital consolidation, uncompetitive hospital contract terms, dialysis costs, and others. We have also noticed interest from politicians in considering hospital pricing in the new Congress.

Equity issues also affect access. What are your organization’s efforts to address inequalities?

Kapu: Health equity is a core philosophical principle of nursing care. We see disparities in health care and it is very important that everyone has access to health care. That’s why you see NPs working in all conditions and in underserved areas. From the point of view of the patient population, mental health is a big problem. More than 158 million Americans do not have access to mental health services.

Thornton: We are taking this issue very seriously in our plans. They create programs that address the social determinants of health, as well as stepping up efforts to make additional Medicare Advantage benefits available to help members, such as support for healthy eating, transportation, dental or vision care, hearing aids, and more. needs. The health plans are also working with providers across the country on these issues.

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