By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Nurse Practitioners are key for those without health insurance
For those in small business who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but aren’t large enough to qualify for group insurance, the lack of health insurance is commonplace.
The promise of fiscal discipline and the lack of enthusiasm for new federal commitments to healthcare have not deterred the organizers of “Cover the Uninsured Week.”
The diverse group of healthcare organizations, business groups and consumer advocates that sponsor the week, which launched May 2, aim to highlight the issue of the growing ranks of Americans without health insurance, but policymakers will have their hands full simply trying to maintain the current level of coverage in the short term.
When “Cover the Uninsured Week” debuted in 2003, states were receiving additional federal dollars for Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program that stabilized and, in some cases, expanded the coverage they offered. Advocates were hopeful that a national effort to address the trends that were leading people to lose access to coverage was on the menu.
Policymakers widely acknowledge that numerous pressures on the healthcare system are contributing to more people losing coverage or being denied access.
The answer to this dilemma seems so apparent to me – more people should see a Nurse Practitioner. Nurse practitioners now are doing things that most people thought only physicians do, like seeing patients and prescribing medication.
Nurse Practitioners treat acute and long-term care patients, focus on wellness, treat patients holistically, spend more time educating patients, have better patient satisfaction studies and less malpractice suits than other healthcare providers.
Nurse Practitioners have been trained to provide advanced care because of the shortage of doctors. And there is a shortage of doctors for the uninsured.
Many will not see a “self-pay” patient. Nurse Practitioners can provide healthcare at half the cost of larger physician based practices.
Unlike Physical Therapists, even though Nurse Practitioners are state licensed and have graduate or post-graduate degrees, they cannot open clinics independently in the state of Louisiana.
Many other states do not require formal collaborative agreements, thus passing the savings onto those patients who benefit from affordable health care.
Furthermore, competition leads to better quality and more reasonable costs.
With the nursing shortage and faculty shortage in this state, we need to remove the extraneous barriers that prevent NP’s from providing the full scope of practice that they are educated to provide.
For those of you who do not have health insurance, I urge you to call and write your legislators and request that they allow NP’s to practice independently. Advanced practice registered nurses are truly the answer to serving the uninsured by providing high quality, reasonable priced healthcare to the citizens of Louisiana.
This article was originally published May 16, 2005 in The St. Tammany News.