Sunday, March 8, 2009

Nurses Provide for the Uninsured

President Obama hosted a healthcare summit at the White House on March 5th bringing together 120 Summit attendees. Many issues were discussed but one of the most critical issues facing our country is finding ways to provide healthcare for the uninsured.

According to the American Academy of Nursing, nurses have already been implementing innovative, cost effective, and efficient tactics to mandate coverage for the uninsured. AAN wants nurses to be viewed as a core component in healthcare reform with legislators and healthcare colleagues fully incorporating nurses into the discussion.

For example, the Queen Street Clinic an independently-run facility provides affordable health services for the medically uninsured in Alexandria, Virginia and in the surrounding areas of Northern Virginia. The Clinic was established without government funding, and to keep office costs to a minimum, the clinic does not interact with insurance companies. Instead they charge a nominal fee for primary care and work with patient assistance programs to order medications that otherwise would be cost prohibitive to the patient.

The Clinic has treated more than 20,000 patients since opening in 2001. By allowing access to necessary treatments for the uninsured through fairly simple measures, they have cost- effectively helped to lessen undetected heart disease, pregnancy, and diabetes in the NOVA region

In another effort, a successful partnership program called the Nurse-Family Partnership helps first time uninsured parents give their children a better start through a nurse-home visitation schedule. These visits have helped to lessen the prevalence of high-risk pregnancies in the inner city.

Washington State University Institute for Public Policy in evaluating the program found that the program had the highest return on investment among all home visiting and child welfare programs. Overall, this program provided a net benefit to society of $17,180 in 2003 dollars for each family served, which equates to a $2.88 return per dollar invested in the program initially. For the higher risk families now served by the program, a RAND Corporation analysis found a net benefit to society of $34, 148 per family served, with the bulk of the accruing to government.