Omnibus Spending Bill Is Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for Public Health Issues

  

President Trump today signed into law a major $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill which funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2018. This bill significantly increases both defense and domestic discretionary spending, and includes several important healthcare provisions critical to nurses.

ANA is pleased to note that this spending measure fully funds Title VIII Nurse Workforce Development Programs and includes a $20 million funding increase for such programs. We applaud Congress for recognizing the importance of a nursing workforce that is ready to meet the challenges of our current healthcare environment. ANA also applauds Congress for providing an additional $3 billion to fight the opioid crisis. As providers on the frontlines of this epidemic, nurses witness firsthand the devastation of addiction and overdose. We hope that this combination of workforce and opioid funding will enable the health care system – and nurses in particular – to put an end to this devastating scourge.

Congress also started to show signs of progress on gun violence prevention, as thousands of engaged Americans across the country prepare for this weekend’s March for Our Lives. Congress clarified that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is permitted to engage in some gun violence prevention research, and laid the groundwork for an improved background check system. That said, much work remains to keep our children and nation safe from these senseless tragedies.  Acknowledging the CDC’s authority to study the problem without actually allocating resources carries the same chilling effect on conducting research as an outright ban.

ANA is also very disappointed by Congress’s failure to ensure affordable and accessible healthcare coverage for all Americans. The omnibus spending measure notably did not include a measure or any funding intended to stabilize the individual health insurance markets. Without such market stabilization efforts, individual premiums will continue to skyrocket and many Americans will choose to forgo health insurance coverage altogether, exposing them to physical and financial risks. ANA continues to urge Congress to act toward implementing market stabilization measures.

ANA again applauds Congress for ending (for now) the familiar cycle of lurching from budget crisis to budget crisis with no long-term, bipartisan solutions to outstanding policy issues. While the provisions noted above – nursing workforce, opioids, gun violence prevention – are a start to solving some of these issues, they do not go far enough. We urge Congress to continue to work toward solving these critical policy issues, and to realize that continuing to play politics with the stability of the individual health insurance market hurts vulnerable Americans who rely on affordable and accessible health coverage.

Time is Up on Nurse Abuse

  

This guest post is by ‘Nurse Alice’ Benjamin, MSN, RN, ACNS-BC.

As a nurse for nearly 20 years, I have witnessed and experienced physical, verbal and emotional abuse while caring for patients. I once cared for a patient who threw objects at me, yelled obscenities and racial slurs, spat on me and made unreasonable demands even though I was providing the best care possible.

Last month in Arkansas, a nurse was bitten and punched in her head repeatedly. In another incident, a nurse was choked and sexually assaulted. A majority of the time, nurses who have either been a victim or witnesses to physical and verbal abuse don’t receive news coverage. Thanks to technology and media, we have been able to highlight the magnitude and urgency of the matter, but still not intensely enough to end abuse altogether. As a nurse and media health expert, I make sure to discuss this issue on national television. I truly believe that these senseless acts of violence and abuse demand immediate attention and swift action.

Sadly, all nurses face similar, unsafe situations every day. And at times, unwarranted acts of violence are committed against us. That’s why I am proud to support the #EndNurseAbuse initiative – a national call-to-action led by the American Nurses Association urging nurses, healthcare professionals, patients and all concerned individuals to get involved. Sign a pledge to support zero tolerance when it comes to violence against nurses; report abuse whenever possible; and share the pledge with others asking them to sign too.

The clock has run out on harassment, sexual assault, and inequality in the workplace.

Across all industries and professions, women and men are speaking up to make it clear that time is up.

As we launch ANA’s Year of Advocacy, please join me by taking the pledge to #EndNurseAbuse today.

American Nurses Association Strongly Opposes the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

  

Massive tax bill will significantly reduce the number of Americans with health insurance

Silver Spring, MD – The following statement is attributable to Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association (ANA), in response to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“The American Nurses Association is deeply concerned about the devastating impact that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will have on health care in this country. Under the guise of a promise to slash taxes for corporations and middle-class Americans is a clear intent to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which has helped nearly 16 million Americans obtain health coverage. It is also no secret the actions that will be pursued to make up for the inflated deficit caused by this tax bill will be the cutting of essential anti-poverty programs as well as Medicare and Medicaid.

Eliminating the ACA’s individual mandate will lead to an estimated 13 million fewer Americans having health insurance. The resulting domino effect will be negative health outcomes, higher costs, and fewer individuals with access to critical primary care and preventive services. This is irresponsible and further proves that health care is being handled like a political game to be won at any cost. Frustratingly, this bill was pushed through without input from patients, consumers, or health care experts, including the country’s 3.6 million registered nurses, whom the public ranks as the most ‘honest and ethical’ profession.

Amid numerous failed attempts to ‘repeal and replace’ the ACA, ANA voiced strong opposition to legislation that would threaten health care affordability, access, and delivery for millions of people across the nation. ANA will continue to advocate for a health system that ensures universal access to a standard package of essential health care services for all citizens and residents.”

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