Solution Already in Place: "Nurse-Managed Health Centers" Essential to Easing Health Care Crisis; Even as Doctor Shortage Worsens, Nurses Are Able to Triple Number of Patients Aided.
WASHINGTON, May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Health care reform that focuses on fixing health insurance without dealing with the chronic and growing shortage of primary care physicians is likely to encounter "Massachusetts-style growing pains" unless nurse practitioners are fully involved in health care reform, according to
Shalala, Rendell and the others agreed that "Nurse-Managed Health Centers" - an innovative delivery model for primary and preventive care, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations - will be a vital ingredient in any plan to increase the capacity of the nation's health care delivery system. The good news is that these nurse practitioner-led facilities are a "solution in plain sight" that already has been tested in Pennsylvania and 40 other states. Today, there already are over 250 Nurse-Managed Health Centers across the U.S. providing assistance to millions of Americans. It is estimated that these existing health centers could be expanded to reach over 20 million Americans, a significant number of the estimated 46 million Americans without health care insurance.
Experts have expressed great concern about the nation's supply of primary care physicians, and their ability to meet the needs of patients throughout the United States. The current downturn in the number of primary care physicians is likely to increase during the next 20 years, resulting in a shortage of as many as 44,000 physicians in the fields of general internal medicine and family medicine by the year 2025. Advocates of nurse-led care point out that while the current acute physician shortage is only projected to worsen in the coming years, the number of advanced practice nurses will rise significantly.
The implications for health care reform of the doctor shortage could be staggering. In Massachusetts, for example, passage of a universal insurance plan has overwhelmed the system's existing supply of primary care physicians. As of 2008, only 52 percent of internists in Massachusetts are accepting new patients. In the face of acute primary care physician shortages and steady reductions in the number of physicians who are willing to accept Medicaid and Medicare, it is unclear whether our existing primary care system will be able to meet the needs of a universally insured nation.
Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell said: "The 'Prescription for Pennsylvania' experience, which two years ago focused on implementing innovative, non-physician models of heath care in the state has been nothing short of a major success. Our chronic care and patient centered medical home model, provides high quality health care to tens of thousands of patients that otherwise would find it difficult to access and pay for these services. By next month, we expect 400 primary care practitioners to be involved in four learning collaboratives, transforming chronic care for more than 750,000 patients. Greater nurse practitioner involvement in chronic care and rapid response is the inoculation we need to prevent rising heath care costs and ensure greater access to heath care."
National Nursing Centers Consortium Executive Director Tine Hansen-Turton said: "Our nation's 250 Nurse-Managed Health Centers are community-based, non-profit health centers that are staffed and run by advanced practice nurses (primarily nurse practitioners). They represent an innovative delivery model for primary and preventive care, especially for low-income and vulnerable populations. These health centers are positioned to significantly expand the capacity of our nation's overburdened health care delivery system in a cost-effective and affordable way, but their true potential remains untapped. These centers can provide the foundation for real health care reform that will work, serving tens of millions of additional families across the United States."
Independence Foundation President Susan E. Sherman noted: "Philadelphia may be the future vision of health care reform in the United States. Because we believe in the model's potential, the Independence Foundation has invested millions of dollars in 12 Nurse-Managed Health Centers that provide primary care, health promotion, and disease prevention services. These Nurse-Managed Health Centers help clients manage current health problems, detect potential health problems, and reduce the risk of future health problems. We are proud of our support of this innovative model of care, but our support is not enough to sustain these centers. We need federal funding to bolster private sector support."
A FIVE-POINT PLAN
The National Nursing Centers Consortium, a non-profit organization comprised of Nurse-Managed Health Centers throughout the country, has a five-point plan with new ideas to increase access to health care, improve care for patients with chronic diseases, and improve the efficiency of the health care system:
To learn more about Nurse Managed Health Centers, please review the PowerPoint presentations of National Nursing Centers Consortium Executive Director Tine Hansen-Turton and Independence Foundation President Susan E. Sherman by visiting http://www.aannet.org.
ABOUT THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF NURSING
The American Academy of Nursing (http://www.aannet.org) serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. Every day across America, the Academy and its members create and execute knowledge-driven and policy-related initiatives to drive reform of America's health care system.
The American Academy of Nursing "Raise the Voice" campaign receives support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; today's briefing was supported in part by the Independence Foundation.
|SOURCE American Academy of Nursing, |
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