Why Medicaid is More Important Than Ever

  

Too often overlooked in recent debates is the role that Medicaid plays in children’s healthcare coverage. Of the 74 million Americans covered by Medicaid, nearly 36 million are children enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) – which was enacted in 1997 to ensure affordable and accessible healthcare coverage for low-income children. Roughly 38 percent of American children receive healthcare services through these two programs, and they have been critical in increasing the percentage of American children with health insurance coverage to a historic high of 95.5 percent in 2016.

Medicaid and CHIP are particularly important to some of the nation’s most vulnerable children – 76 percent of children living in poverty, 48 percent of children with special health needs, and 48.8 percent of children ages three and under are covered under Medicaid and CHIP. Furthermore, 49 percent of births are covered by Medicaid. Without these two programs, millions of children would go without crucial healthcare services, positioning them for a lower quality of life further down the road.

And yet, despite the indubitably positive impacts that these programs have for America’s youngest and most vulnerable, Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration have repeatedly attempted to scale them back and reduce the number of Americans who receive coverage. Congress voted on several bills in 2017 – all of which failed to pass both chambers – which would have reduced Medicaid eligibility, slashed funding, and imposed caps on state Medicaid programs. Congress also chose to play political football with CHIP, which expired on September 30, 2017, and did not re-authorize the program until January 2018, a full four months after its funding had expired. The Trump Administration has also opened the door for states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. These proposals have all been aimed at low-income Americans, who are burdened enough already as they work to make ends meets.

Reducing coverage to reduce poverty and encourage work is counterintuitive given that Medicaid actually encourages Americans to remain employed, and implementing such proposals would have drastically negative impacts on the nation’s low-income and vulnerable populations. Seventeen percent of American parents receive health insurance coverage through Medicaid; reducing Medicaid eligibility and funding for adults would also reduce coverage for those children whose parents receive coverage through Medicaid. Medicaid also helps to keep millions of Americans out of poverty and out of debt. The burden of this reduction in coverage, meanwhile, would fall equally, and unfairly, on parents and their children.

While CHIP has been fully re-authorized for 10 years and there are currently no legislative proposals to roll back Medicaid coverage that appear close to passage this Congress, it is important to recognize not only during this Medicaid Awareness Month, but all year, the impact the Medicaid has on such a large segment of Americans. ANA continues to support universal access to affordable and accessible healthcare coverage and continues to stress the importance of preventive services. Medicaid and CHIP are some of the most important programs toward achieving those principles, and we urge Congress and the Trump Administration not to jeopardize Medicaid coverage for any Americans.

#NeverAgain

  

For decades, the American Nurses Association has called on lawmakers to come together and pass common sense policies that prevent gun violence and protect Americans. Nurses have pushed for action to enhance our background check system, enact mandatory waiting periods, prevent potentially dangerous individuals from getting guns, and allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to research gun violence and firearm injury prevention.

These calls were strengthened and renewed at our 2016 Membership Assembly and took on new urgency in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last month. And while it is frustrating that we made appeals after Sandy Hook, Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, and so many other horrific mass shootings, with nothing done to stop this violence, nurses will not stop calling for action.

ANA, along with 95 other organizations, recently called on Congress to establish a bipartisan National Commission on Mass Shootings. We are also actively supporting Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy’s Gun Violence Research Act (H.R. 1478). This bill repeals the current provision that prohibits the CDC and other federal agencies at the Department of Health and Human Services from researching gun violence and firearm injury prevention. This bipartisan bill is a first step in working toward preventing gun violence.

Nurses have a unique perspective on this issue and their input is needed now more than ever. We call on you to help lend your voice to this important issue. Please send a message to your legislators letting them know you support Congresswoman Murphy’s legislation, and be sure to include your own perspective on this critical issue. ANA is committed to working with our partners on and off Capitol Hill to bring nurses’ dedication and ideas forward to help solve this issue. We stand together in calling for meaningful gun violence prevention and increased dialogue with our communities to take action against hate and death.

Our thoughts remain with the victims, students, parents, teachers, first responders and the medical professionals in Parkland, Florida, as they work to heal. ANA is also cognizant of the impact these mass causality shootings have on survivors of gun violence and the continued challenges of recovery that they face. The Parkland community has mobilized around their grief and anger to spark a national conversation, which we have not seen in quite some time. This is a conversation that is long overdue.

Gun violence like this is far too familiar in the United States, and, like so many others, nurses are dealing with the consequences. On average, there are more than 35,000 gun deaths per year in the United States, including almost 13,000 homicides. Even more outrageous is that nearly seven children under the age of 19 are killed with guns every day in the United States. Nurses are being called to care for victims of not only mass shootings but homicides, suicides and accidental shootings in clinics and emergency departments throughout the country. It is because of this that so many nurses and their families are joining the students, parents and teachers at Stoneman Douglas by standing up and saying #NeverAgain.

“We (nurses) are on the front lines of every mass shooting, which over time has become deadlier and more frequent. We have a duty to advocate for the safety of all through stricter gun laws and research the growing trend of gun violence” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of ANA.

 

Introducing the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act

  

Advocating for and passing legislation that helps nurses and patients is a fundamental part of our Year of Advocacy. Nurses advocate every day for their patients, their communities and the profession, but it is also important that nurses lend their expertise to elected officials as they draft and pass legislation relevant to the nursing profession.

Earlier this month our bipartisan champions in the House of Representatives and Senate introduced a bill that will improve care and help keep nurses and patients safe. Champions including Reps. David Joyce (R-OH-14), Suzan DelBene (D-WA-10), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-1), and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) as well as Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), came together to introduce the Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act of 2018 (S. 2446, H.R. 5052).

The bill requires hospitals to establish a committee, composed of at least 55 percent direct care nurses, to create nurse staffing plans that are specific to each unit. As nurses across the country know, patients risk longer hospital stays, increased infections, and avoidable injuries when units are understaffed. Understaffing also leads to lower nurse retention, higher rates of injury and burnout.

“RN staffing makes a critical difference for patients and the quality of their care,” said Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, president of the American Nurses Association. “Appropriate nurse staffing keeps patients safe and protects them from preventable complications, even lowering the risk of death. Nursing care is like medication—we would never withhold a medication when we know its lifesaving effects. The Safe Staffing for Nurse and Patient Safety Act empowers direct care nurses to determine the unique and variable needs of their patients to ensure the safety and quality outcomes of care.”

Our Congressional champions also understand why this legislation is so important.

“As a husband of a nurse, I have experienced first-hand the many challenges and responsibilities nurses face on a day to day basis,” said Joyce. “Ensuring patient safety and care has always been a priority but has faced many challenges when nurses are over worked and hospitals are under staffed. As Co-Chair of the House Nursing Caucus, I am proud to introduce legislation that addresses the issue and protects our patients and nurses.”

“As the husband of a nurse, I know firsthand the many challenges nurses face and how critical their care is to patients,” said Merkley. “Safe staffing enhances the quality of patient care, reduces medical errors, and increases nurse retention.”

But introducing this bill is just the first step. We need your help getting more cosponsors for this legislation – let your Senators and Representatives know why safe staffing is so critical. Click here to send them an email asking them to support this bill and be sure to include a personal note on why nurse-driven ratios are so important.