This guest post is by Alex Wubbels, RN.
Back in late July, I was arrested for following my hospital’s policy and protecting an unconscious patient who could not consent to a blood draw. I was wrongfully seized by force in the middle of the emergency department.
Even though my story made national news, most do not. Did you hear about the emergency department nurse who was stabbed by a patient in Massachusetts? Or the Arkansas nurse who was pushed down a flight of stairs? Or the two nurses in Illinois who were taken hostage (one of whom was beaten and raped)? Sadly, the list goes on and on. With one out of every four nurses reporting that they’ve been assaulted at work, you’ve either experienced this personally or know a colleague who has been abused.
The fact that we are more likely to experience violence on the job than prison guards or police officers is unacceptable, and we must work together to #EndNurseAbuse.
As an ANA member, I was fortunate to have the support of my organization, community, and a tribe of fellow nurses during this difficult time.
I truly believe that what happened to me can lead to positive change in our profession. That’s why I decided to speak out: to stop this abuse from happening to others. I’ve teamed up with ANA to ask you to sign our pledge and stop this culture of violence. I am committed to this goal so we are not put in situations where we have to fear for our safety, or have to choose between our jobs and our licenses.
By adding your name, you’re saying you support zero tolerance when it comes to violence against nurses; that you’ll report abuse whenever you safely can; and that you’ll share with others asking them to sign too.
Please join me by adding your name and taking the pledge.
Alex Wubbels, RN
Nurses see firsthand the devastating effects of the opioid crisis on their patients, communities, and perhaps even themselves or their families. ANA members have been forthcoming in their stories about access, treatment, and the pain they have dealt with each and every day working to fight this crisis. That’s why many are cheering the Trump administration’s work on the crisis, with the First Lady leading the administrative efforts for declaring it a national emergency, as nurses team with emergency responders, policymakers, law enforcement, and other stakeholders in the fight to turn the tide on the devastating effects of opioid abuse in local communities.
The statistics are sobering: 64,000 Americans lost their lives to drug misuse in 2016. The number of people misusing prescription opioids in 2015 is even more alarming, 12.5 million people. There is hope—however, a comprehensive approach is needed from the ground level all the way up through state and federal governments in order to address the crisis. ANA supports nurses who are facing this crisis head on through targeted continuing education, support of federal legislation that supports nurses to practice to the full extent of their training and education, and supporting/advocating for policies that allow APRNs to prescribe medication assisted therapy, which has proven effective in stemming substance use disorder.
Within the walls of Congress, there are currently over a hundred of bills aimed at addressing varying aspects of the opioid crisis. Two in particular are at top of ANAs priorities for opioid legislation. In the Senate ANA has signed on to support is Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, introduced by Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA). In the House, Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) introduced H.R. 3692, the Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act with support from ANA and our nursing partners. The latter bill aims to build on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act in order to allow clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists to practice to the full extent of their training and education in prescribing buprenorphine.
Buprenorphine, however, is just one piece of the puzzle in treating opioid dependency. As with all medications used in Medication Assisted Therapies (MAT), it is just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes addressing the underlying issues through counseling and participation in social support programs. Nurses play a primary role in comprehensive treatment plans and will continue to be integral in treating the most vulnerable populations throughout the country. ANA urges you to continue to voice your support in this fight by contacting your representatives and asking them to support H.R. 3692.
Yesterday, Senate HELP Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) announced they had reached a short-term deal bipartisan healthcare legislation. This legislation would stabilize individual insurance markets and protect patients and families from premium spikes and uncertainty caused by the Trump Administration’s two decisions last week intended to destabilize the ACA marketplaces.
The deal negotiated by Alexander and Murray would fund payments to help lower costs for families, provide added flexibility to states, protect essential health benefits for patients, and restore investments for open enrollment outreach.
The bill would:
- Restore Cost-Sharing Reduction payments and the certainty that is crucial to continued market stability and affordability for families. Insurers have raised rates by as much as 30% because of the uncertainty around CSR payments and continue to threaten exit from insurance markets.
- Restore certainty to health care markets by ensuring CSRs will continue through 2017, 2018, and 2019.
- Include steps to ensure 2018 enrollees receive the financial benefit of CSRs for the coming year.
- Require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase funding for outreach and enrollment assistance activities for 2018 and 2019; this is a top priority for ANA with Open Enrollment beginning November 1.
- Put in place extensive reporting requirements to make sure HHS is held accountable for implementing Open Enrollment in 2018 and 2019.
Most importantly, the bill would generally keep in place essential health benefits and protections for pre-existing conditions with the exception of consumers who qualify for catastrophic plans.
The legislation will need 60 votes to pass through the Senate and ultimately Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will determine if the bill goes to the floor for a vote. In addition, lawmakers will need to convince the President that this bill will benefit the consumer and not the insurers. To date, the President has responded with mixed reviews.