In the News: How the Affordable Care Act Has Impacted Nursing
Sure, you’ve heard the term Obamacare. It’s flooded your television, been the center of your conversations and invaded your social media, but what does it mean for your career? As a nurse, the Affordable Care Act directly affects the medical field, which means it directly affects you as well.
What effect has the Affordable Care Act had on the nursing profession? We’ve gathered some information to help you better answer this question.
What is the Affordable Care Act?
Before you can understand how the Affordable Care Act has effected your career, you need to understand what it is exactly.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, was signed into law in March 2010. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “The Affordable Care Act puts consumers back in charge of their health care. Under the law, a new “Patient’s Bill of Rights” gives the American people the stability and flexibility they need to make informed choices about their health.”1
For a list of the key features of the Affordable Care Act, click here.
How has the ACA affected healthcare facilities?
Wikipedia says “[The Affordable Care Act] represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Under the act, hospitals and primary physicians would transform their practices financially, technologically, and clinically to drive better health outcomes, lower costs, and improve their methods of distribution and accessibility.”2
Nurse Concerns Regarding ACA
One of the main concerns of the ACA is the massive increase in patients. The legislation expanded health insurance coverage to an estimated 30 to 34 million people. Amy Anderson, DNP, RN, CNE said “when Congress enacted the national health law, it unleashed a potential tsunami of newly insured patients, flooding a delivery system that was already strained and fragile.”3
It’s no secret that there is a shortage of healthcare workers, which can make an influx in patients seem bad for nurses. According to Trusted Choice, more patients for nurses could mean:
- More patients seen on a daily basis. That’s simply because there are more people who have access to healthcare.
- More preventive care appointments, which are often nurse-led. Nurses are likely to see a push towards preventive care services in many practices.
- More paperwork in terms of meeting the law’s requirements for reporting
- Possible increased demand for traveling nurses, who move from place to place to meet needs in response to shortages. This may occur as hospitals work to fill openings in order to meet preventive care requirements and demands.
- With Medicare and Medicaid remaining as large components of Obamacare, many RNs will see a push toward increasing education to meet demands within the industry. It may even be likely that the American Nursing Association will increase grant opportunities to push nurses towards getting the required education.4
UPMC also points out that, “the patients that will come in will likely be sicker than previous patients. Not only is the American population aging quickly but many Americans with pre-existing conditions have new coverage.”6
Nurse Benefits from the ACA
As the number of patients grow, the demand for nurses is growing as well. This means that job opportunities for those with nursing degrees will expand.
Another benefit to the field of nursing is an increase in federal loans. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says “changes in federal loan programs are allowing more nursing students to go to school on a full-time basis, which means they will be able to enter the workforce sooner and help curb a looming shortage of nurses that threatens to undermine patient care.”5
The Foundation also points out that the Affordable Care Act will allow nurses to step out of the shadow of other healthcare professionals. “The law identified and defined nurse-managed clinics as critical safety-net providers for millions of people, an unprecedented move that makes it easier for these types of clinics to raise funding, get reimbursed for care, and earn recognition as medical homes.”5
While to Affordable Care Act undoubtedly increased the amount of patients nurses treat, it has many benefits for aspiring nurses and current nurses alike.
How have you seen the field of nursing change as a result of Obamacare? Tell us in the comments below!