TRENTON, N.J.—Jan. 15, 2017— As the healthcare system in the United States continues to evolve, nurses are the most passionate advocates for affordable access to healthcare.
“Access to care is a bipartisan issue that impacts all Americans. Healthcare should be focused on wellness, disease prevention, chronic disease management and holistic care,” said Judith Schmidt, CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA). “Components of the current system give more Americans than ever access to care, screenings and tests necessary for a healthy nation. As we move forward with a new president, we will continue to be a strong voice for nurses and patients advocating for the best healthcare system possible to have the healthiest America possible.”
Under the current system, almost 400,000 New Jersey residents have had access to visits with medical professionals, wellness check-ups, screenings and life-saving treatments. Lawmakers are proposing changes to the system as a new administration prepares to come into office later this month.
“While the current system bridges the gap for so many Americans who otherwise went without healthcare, accessible high-quality, affordable healthcare should continue to be available to everyone,” said Dr. Benjamin Evans, DD,DNP, RN, APN, PHMCNS-BC, president of NJSNA. “As the new administration takes office, regardless of what the system is called, access to care needs to be protected.”
The uninsured rate in New Jersey has fallen by 34 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was enacted in 2010, translating into 398,000 New Jersey resident gaining coverage, according December 2016 data compiled by the Department of U.S. Health and Human Services. Through the ACA Marketplace, 249,395 New Jersey residents have obtained coverage. Now, 205,242 moderate- and middle-income New Jersey residents receive tax credits averaging $322 per month to help defray healthcare coverage obtained through HealthCare.gov.
Since the institution of the ACA, physician offices and emergency rooms are seeing more patients with healthcare coverage and arrive sooner before their condition is in a more serious state, said Schmidt, who has spent more than 33 years on the frontlines as a nurse at Community Medical Center in Toms River.
In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christie’s State of the State address this week emphasized his goal of dealing with drug addiction and mental health issues only emphasizes the need for a sound healthcare system, said Evans, a board certified psychiatric mental health advanced practice nurse (APN). “Protecting access to care and counseling for individuals who need treatment so they can get healthy and return to their normal lives is key to moving the governor’s mission forward. Our lawmakers coming together in a bipartisan effort to work on this issue shows their commitment to creating a healthier New Jersey.”
NJSNA continues to look for ways to advance access to care for New Jersey residents and all Americans.
“As our nation’s healthcare system moves forward and evolves with more people seeking care, APNs should play an integral part in helping maintain the nation’s health, practicing to the fullest extent of their licensure not encumbered by restrictive practice regulations,” Schmidt said. “We are working toward lifting joint protocol requirements for APN and working to develop a multi-state licensing compact that would make it easier for APNs to serve patients throughout the New Jersey region and the United States.”
NJSNA, which was established in 1901, is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association. The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) represents the interests of 125,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses as an advocate for the nursing profession. NJSNA’s lobbying arm continues to protect the nursing profession through legislative victories. Its nonprofit foundation, Institute for Nursing, helps nurses further their careers by providing continuing education, scholarships and research grants in addition to invaluable networking opportunities. For more information, nurses can visit www.njsna.org or contact NJSNA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 883-5335.