Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, answered questions from Nurse.com and other media outlets as part of a live roundtable Thursday afternoon.
Representing Nurse.com and Gannett Education at the roundtable, Robert Hess, RN, PhD, FAAN, executive vice president, global programming at Gannett Healthcare Group, posed questions that had been submitted by Nurse.com readers.
In response to a question about whether the Obama Administration would seek the input of RNs in the ongoing discussion about healthcare reform, Sebelius said the answer is yes. She noted that key health officials such as Mary Wakefield, RN, PhD, administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration, bring a nurses perspective to the issue.
“We have a whole host of commissions and boards and outreach opportunities,” Sebelius said. “We would love to have input from those nurses who are delivering the care day in and day out, who know how to keep people healthy in the first place, how to use everything from medical home models to bundled care when folks get out of the hospitals to reduce readmissions. We look forward to having those ideas and those strategies as we make a transformation in healthcare.”
Another question from a Nurse.com reader asked about the administration’s plans for alleviating the shortage of nursing faculty.
“There are additional funds this year that HRSA is putting out the door for nursing faculty,” Sebelius said. “There also is a brand new work force commission which is about to get to work. One of the things I think is still lacking is an accurate mapping of where the providers are going to be needed, what the specialties are [by] geographic location, by specialty area and then having a very strategic plan to not just educate more folks of various kinds, but really match the need to the training that’s given.”
Sebelius said her office is working with former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, chairwoman of an Institute of Medicine committee that last year put out a report called “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The report touched on ways to address nurse faculty shortages.
“We’re working very closely with her on implementation steps that we can take within our administrative authority to encourage the acceleration of those plans,” Sebelius said.
The third question from Nurse.com readers was about how Medicare and Medicaid can fulfill the long-term care needs of seniors when the cost of care is unaffordable to many.
Sebelius noted the passage of the CLASS (Community Living Assistance Services and Support) Act, a voluntary long-term care insurance program for working individuals.
“What the CLASS Act anticipates is people being able to set aside voluntarily a portion of their income and then draw that income down out of their savings account in the future to buy a variety of residential care services,” Sebelius said.
However, Sebelius noted, many seniors prefer to retain their independence by remaining at home.
“Some folks are forced into a nursing home setting because they don’t have help at home and don’t have help with daily living. This is really a plan to provide a continuum of care and provide assistance for a lot more Americans, as they live longer and healthier, to really have support in a residential community setting,” Sebelius said.
For more coverage of the roundtable event, check back with Nurse.com and also see the Feb. 7 issues of Nursing Spectrum, NurseWeek and Nurse.com The Magazine.