|NEWSRoom | Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation|
Health Leaders Applaud Medicare’s First Initiative to Train More Highly Skilled Nurses
Leaders from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation® and the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action applaud the launch of a major new effort in which Medicare will, for the first time, support the training of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the five hospitals that will participate in the Medicare Graduate Nurse Education Demonstration. The leaders called it a significant advance that can improve the accessibility, quality, and value of healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans.
“This announcement marks a historic moment of investment in the crucial and growing role of nurses in our healthcare system,” says Robert Wood Johnson Foundation President and CEO, Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA. “With 8,000 baby boomers turning 65 and qualifying for Medicare daily, patients everywhere can benefit from the expertise of advanced practice nurses and the expanded access to care they potentially can provide. The decision to extend Medicare funding to nurses recognizes the urgent need to expand the workforce to care for the growing population of Medicare recipients.”
The 4-year, $200 million effort was created as part of the Affordable Care Act and will boost the number of highly skilled APRNS (nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse specialists) by reimbursing training costs for five networks of hospitals, nursing schools, and community-based clinics and health centers. The APRNs trained through this program will be equipped with the skills necessary to care for Medicare beneficiaries and provide primary and preventive carelynchpins to improving consumer value and holding down healthcare costs.
Today, the Medicare program is facing an aging population with an increasing number of chronic conditions, combined with growing shortages of health professionals. These Americans need safe and effective care that starts with well-coordinated primary and preventive care and continues with transitional care, chronic care management, and effective acute care services in all settingsfrom hospitals to community health centers, convenient care clinics to home care.
“This relatively modest investment will pay big dividends for consumers by preparing more highly skilled nurses to provide care when and where it is needed. These new health professionals will improve access to crucial primary, preventive, and transitional care across a range of settingsfrom the hospital, to the home, to convenient care clinics,” says Susan Reinhard, PhD, RN, FAAN, senior vice president of the AARP Public Policy Institute and chief strategist of the Center to Champion Nursing in America, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This is a much-needed boost for our healthcare workforce that will increase access to crucial primary care, improve quality, reduce medical errors, and lower costs.”
The demonstration program also furthers the goals of the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, a joint initiative of AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, commissioned to promote the implementation of the recommendations in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This landmark report called for more Medicare funding to increase the numbers of APRNs who are prepared to care for a 21st century health care consumer.
Studies demonstrate that, for more than 40 years, consumers have been receiving safe and effective healthcare from APRNs. There is no difference between outcomes of primary care delivered by a nurse practitioner and those delivered by a physician. The evidence shows that nurse practitioners can reduce the number of hospital days for patients, resulting in a win-win for payers as well as patients and their families. Further, when APRNs deliver basic primary care, physiciansalready in short supplyare free to focus on providing care to patients with more complex medical needs.
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