In 2010, the Affordable Care Act was passed into legislation with the aim of reforming the health care sector in the United States. The legislation aimed at addressing significant disparities in access and quality of health care as well as in controlling the spiraling health care costs. As part of its reforms, the ACA also recognized the potentials of the nursing profession in improving the quality of care and addressing increasing health costs. In light of this, the Act designed several key provisions related to nursing in a bid to transform the current system into a true health care system.
Provisions Related to Nursing
Ideally, in order to support nursing education to increase the number of primary care providers, Section 5204 on the public health workforce established a Loan Repayment Program to ensure an adequate supply of workforce and curb shortages in public health facilities (American Nurses Association, n.d). Under the program, the HHS would agree to pay up to one-third of the loans incurred by public health professional students in exchange for the student’s services in a public health agency for at least three years. Similarly, the quality of patient care and nursing care are inextricably intertwined, especially in long-term care. The ACA recognizes the importance of staffing information in ensuring accountability and enhancing patient safety. As outlined in the American Nurses Association, section 6105 on the Nursing home transparency – whistleblower protection allows for the creation of standardized complaint forms and protection to employees who complain in good faith regarding the quality of services in a nursing facility.
Impact of the Provisions on Nursing Practice
By addressing the public health workforce, the ACA addresses the need for increased number of nursing professionals in the public health facilities. Ultimately, research shows that health care settings with a higher number of nurses within the workforce reduces medical errors caused by fatigue, records low hospital stays, and low mortality rates among other positive outcomes (Shekelle, Wachter & Pronovost, 2013). In addition to this, protecting people who complain report about the quality of care will ensure availability of staffing information on the compare website, which helps patients to make informed decisions. Moreover, the information will also ensure staff accountability and enhanced patient safety.
American Nurses Association. (n.d). Health Care Reform: Key Provisions Related to Nursing. Retrieved from: http://www.rnaction.org/site/DocServer/KeyProvisions_Nursing-PublicLaw.pdf?docID=1241&verID=1
Shekelle, P. G., Wachter, R. M., Pronovost, P. J., Schoelles, K., McDonald, K. M., Dy, S. M., Shojania, K., … Winters, B. D. (2013). Making health care safer II: an updated critical analysis of the evidence for patient safety practices. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK133362/
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