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Nurse practitioners to play vital role in healthcare reform

HRSA's Mary Wakefield, RN, describes role at AANP conference

Friday June 27, 2014
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Nurse practitioners will be crucial in expanding access to healthcare in coming years, Mary K. Wakefield, RN, PhD, administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said, speaking at an opening session of the 2014 conference of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners on June 18 in Nashville, Tenn. Wakefield discussed the role NPs will play in light of a projected shortage of primary care physicians, both as providers and educators about healthcare reform.

“There’s still a lot of work to do to continue to educate the uninsured about new options available under the Affordable Care Act,” she told attendees, according to reports from the conference. “Too often even people who have health insurance coverage may not be aware of new benefits, may think incorrectly that preventive services like mammograms are not covered or may not understand why screening matters. These people need help from you to understand the range of benefits health insurance provides.”

Community health centers have received $11 billion through the ACA to fund 9,500 new sites, Wakefield said. The new centers employ 4,700 NPs and more than 500 nurse midwives. President Barrack Obama’s proposed 2015 budget provides funds for another 150 centers, she said, to serve more than 31 million people.

Other federal programs, including the National Health Service Corps, which offers scholarships and tuition reimbursement programs for primary care providers in underserved areas, and the national Nurse Corps, a home visiting program that employs 2,500 RNs and 480 NPs, also have been expanded under the ACA, she said. The National Health Service Corps includes 1,600 advanced practice nurses, more than three times as many as there were in 2008, she said.

Wakefield also told conference attendees she has received her primary care from nurse practitioners for the last 20 years. “I personally know the difference nurse practitioners make to ensuring access to high-quality care,” she said, according to an AANP report from the conference.

The AANP conference ran from June 17-22. Find out more at http://www.aanp.org/conferences/national-conference.


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