In what has been called the most anticipated and important ruling in decades, on June 28 the U.S. Supreme Court voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. In its decision, the high court explained that although Congress cannot force individuals to purchase healthcare, it can tax those who choose not to differently. The landmark decision will affect the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S., and nurses must prepare for changes ahead.
Illinois Organization of Nurse Leaders President Cathy Smithson, RN, MS, believes nursing is up to the challenge. “With any changes in healthcare there will be challenges and opportunities,” she said. “But nurses will continue to offer safe, quality care.”
Smithson will be one of several speakers at an IONL workshop offered in July that will help nurses partner with finance personnel at their hospitals or healthcare facilities to identify costs and increase nursing value within their organizations. Nurses are critical to quality patient care and their input will be valuable in effective healthcare reform, she said.
“The IONL will continue to focus on developing and supporting nurse leaders who oversee the delivery of care in many types of settings,” Smithson said. “And by doing that, we will support the practice of nursing as its highest level.”
The Medicaid portion of the law, in which some states do not want to participate, has been a bone of contention. The court decided states can opt out of the Medicaid expansion without being removed from the program or losing existing funding. That ruling may prove to be a boon for home care agencies, such as New York Citys MJHS Home Care.
“Each and every day, nurses and other clinicians do our very best to help Americans be as healthy and independent as possible,” said Diana Gallo, RN, BSN, Manhattan branch director at MJHS Home Care. “With this ruling, I personally think a good first step has been made in the right direction of getting our country to a healthier place. At MJHS, we say that ‘Caring is doing. This ruling is an example of ‘doing.”
Increased access to healthcare may translate into more of New York Citys residents getting the home care services they need.
“My colleagues and I believe the demand for quality, compassionate and culturally sensitive home care will increase, especially as hospitals and other referral sources have an even greater appreciation for our unique expertise,” Gallo said. “The popularity of programs [such as] the MJHS Home Cares heart failure disease management will continue to grow, especially because of their ability to help decrease rehospitalizations and make early interventions.”
In a news release the day of the ruling, the Emergency Nurses Association applauded the Supreme Courts decision to uphold the law, praising its “consumer protections and the opportunity it opens for emergency nurses to assume an even greater role in providing safe practice, safe care.
“Though people will continue to require emergency care, this decision means that millions will have access to basic, primary healthcare and preventive services, which should ultimately reduce the numbers of patients seeking routine care in the emergency department,” said ENA President Gail Lenehan, RN, MSN, EdD, FAEN, FAAN.
Implementation and compliance with the law by 2014 may require a push for innovative and cost-effective measures to provide services without compromising quality of care. Workshops like the one IONL is hosting may help, and Smithson and Gallo agreed that nurses are ready for the challenge.
“From a nursing perspective, whatever the avenue taken … nursing leaders will be committed to finding the best ways to continue to administer quality care,” Smithson said.
For information, visit www.Nurse.com/ACA.