Today, more than ever before, health care providers are increasingly demonstrating the need to achieve visibility in all public debates, with the view to influencing the policies targeted at transforming existing models of health and health care delivery (Fyffe, 2009).
As the largest group of health care providers in many countries globally, nursing professionals are increasingly realizing their capacity to generate enough power to effectively reform the health care system through enhanced nursing contribution and influence in health care policy across clinical, management, research, and educational domains (Abood, 2007). The present paper analyses the Healthcare Reform Bill, with the view to illuminating how nurses influenced the development of this bill.
Available literature demonstrates that, on March 23, 2010, President Barrack Obama signed into law The Health Care and Education Affordability Act, with the deepest conviction that it would help address various challenges facing the nursing profession in the United States, such as nursing shortage, high costs of nurse education, and deteriorating primary care services (McNeal, 2010). Earlier, President Obama had intelligently outlined the desired health care reform outcomes under three principles, namely
- making health care accessible for all American citizens,
- providing quality health care, and
- making health care affordable for all citizens (Gardner, 2009).
The health care reform outcomes were forwarded to the House and Senate committees for legislation, implying that the policy-making process was initially meant to assume a political nature. However, nurse practitioners and advocates, through their professional bodies, coalitions, and action groups, substantially influenced the policy-making process by requesting for hearings with the House and Senate committees to provide expert opinions and suggestions that were later utilized in designing the bill (Gardner, 2009).
As postulated in the literature, nurses were well aware of how the policy interventions proposed by the political class could impact professional practice, thus their contributions in the debate went a long way in optimizing and valuing the roles of nursing in the proposed redesigned system (McNeal, 2010).
From the above exposition, it is evident that nursing professionals in the United States used their power of numbers (the largest group of health care providers), expert power (knowledge and skills needed by House and Senate committees), as well as referent power (having other people’s admiration and respect), not only to take advantage of the existing opportunity to present their perspectives on health care issues facing Americans and challenges facing the nursing profession but also to successfully exert influence in shaping the Healthcare Reform Bill to ensure optimal care delivery (Abood, 2009; Gardner, 2009).
Available literature demonstrates that “nurses, as providers and consumers of health care services, have professional and personal experiences regarding the problems and possible solutions to share with policy decision-makers” (Abood, 2007, para. 15). In the case scenario, nurses used these experiences to influence policy decision-makers (House and Senate committees) and bring them to agree on several critical health care issues, such as the need to establish nursing scholarships and loan repayment programs to address nurse shortage by ensuring that more nurses can go through nurse education (McNeal, 2010).
Overall, it is clear that nurses can influence the policy-making process by employing their power of numbers, expert power, and referent power, with the view to ensuring that their perspectives on varied health care issues are taken into account in transforming existing models of health and health care delivery.
Abood, S. (2007). Influencing health care in the legislative arena. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 12(1). Web.
Fyffe, T. (2009). Nursing shaping and influencing health and social care policy. Journal of Nursing Management, 17(6), 698-706.
Gardner, D. (2009). The evolving voice of nursing in health care reform. Nursing Economic$, 27(4), 255-259.
McNeal, G.J. (2010). The health care reform bill and its impact on the nursing profession, The ABNF Journal, 21(2), 38-38.