Nursing and Health Reform
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. This law will enact sweeping changes to almost every facet of the health care system over the next ten years. The law makes changes that will impact providers, insurers, consumers, Medicare & Medicaid, and payment policies. For the purposes of this document we wanted to provide readers with an overview of those provisions in the new law that will impact the nursing community as well as their facilities. This article is intended to provide an overview of those sections of the law most relevant to WOCN members.
The information focuses on three main aspects of the law: nursing workforce provisions, payment reform provisions, and facility specific provisions. Each provision is given a brief summary and policy goal of the language contained in the law. Readers can find the full legislative language for each section here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW111publ148/html/PLAW-111publ148.htm Nursing Workforce Provisions Policy makers recognized the need for an increased workforce to care for the millions of consumers who would be added to the ranks of the insured under PPACA. This — in conjunction with an already existing workforce shortage within the nursing community — led to a number of provisions designed to increase the number of nurses in the coming years. Those provisions are as follows: Section 5202 Nursing student loan program—Updates the loan amounts for the Nursing Student Loan program and after 2012 the Secretary (of the Department of Health and Human Services) has discretion to adjust this amount based on cost of attendance increases.
Section 5203 Health care workforce loan repayment programs—Establishes a loan repayment program for individuals who are willing to practice in a pediatric medical or surgical subspecialty or in a child mental or behavioral health care for at least 2 years in an underserved area. Recipients, which include psychiatric nurses, social workers, and professional/school counselors, are eligible to receive $35,000/year in loan repayments for participation in an accredited pediatric specialty residency or fellowship. HHS is to give priority to applicants who are or will be working in a school setting, have familiarity with evidence-based healthcare, and can demonstrate financial need. Section 5204 Public health workforce recruitment and retention programs—Establishes Public Health Workforce Loan Repayment Program to assure an adequate supply of public health professionals to eliminate workforce shortages in public health agencies. HHS will repay up to 1/3 of loans incurred by a public health or health professions student in exchange for an agreement to accept employment with a public health agency for at least three years.
Those serving in priority service areas may qualify for additional loan repayment incentives at department’s discretion. Section 5205 Allied health workforce recruitment and retention programs—Authorizes an Allied Health Loan Forgiveness Program to assure there is an adequate supply of allied health professionals to eliminate workforce shortages at public health agencies, acute care facilities, ambulatory care facilities, and other underserved health facilities. Section 5206 Grants for State and local programs—Authorizes HHS to make grants to accredited educational institutions that support scholarships for mid-career public health and allied health professionals who seek additional training in their respective fields.