And there’s this: “Is this a no-brainer, or are we dealing with something more complicated here?” Hint: I’m just saying, it’s worth a look. Expanding and enhancing the public health role of the nursing workforce is central, not only to the ideology, but to the economics of the Affordable Care Act. This is based on well-documented research identifying nurses as the value-drivers in healthcare, especially when working in advanced practice capacities or when employed to educate patients and families. Think about it: you’re in the hospital, ready to be discharged. Who’s in the room? Is there a physician with you, taking the time to discuss your homecare plan? Or is it a nurse you see at your side, answering your medication questions and explaining the “whys” behind the “whats” of your plan?

A couple of news hooks may be coming up: First, when the bill hits the House floor for debate. Of course, as with any bill, that might or might not happen soon, or even ever (govtrack.us is great for staying on top of congressional debate schedules). Still, there’s buzz about Jeff Merkely, a Democrat from Oregon and the leader of the Senate Nursing Caucus, introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

Whatever the outcome of HR 485, healthcare leadership includes nurses like never before and that, in itself, is worth noting. Just look at Mary Wakefield, head of the US Health Resources Service Administration and Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator and COO for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. We make a big deal about women in Congress, or in the cabinet, or in corner offices all over corporate America. And I’m all for that. But when it comes to healthcare journalism, you can’t leave nurses out of the story.

The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow @USProjectCJR for more posts from this author and the rest of the United States Project team.

 

Sibyl Shalo Wilmont is a healthcare journalist and emergency department nurse with insider experience in the pharmaceutical industry, academic medicine, and patient advocacy. She is a graduate student in Hunter College's dual-degree Master's in Community/Public Health Nursing/Master's in Public Health program. Follow her on Twitter @nursesibyl.