Nurses exist to help patients – that’s our top priority. So, when we look at the state of health care in 2017, it’s through the lens of whether it is getting easier or harder for patients to access the care they need.
The answer is, it’s a mixed bag.
First, the positive. Arizona nurses are playing a more prominent role in providing safe, quality care. Especially in rural and underserved communities where physicians are not always close at hand, it often is a nurse practitioner who ensures patients have critical access to care. This is a good thing – NPs and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have extensive training and specialized experience, and have become indispensable at hospitals and health care facilities across our state.
This is a trend in Arizona and across the country. Earlier this year, Governor Ducey and the Arizona Legislature cut unnecessary red tape that had been preventing certified registered nurse anesthetists in our state from doing the jobs they are trained for. These highly-trained CRNAs now have greater autonomy and can order the medications they require to assist patients – a common-sense win.
But not all of the news is good; uncertainty swirls around health care policy in Arizona and nationally.
At the state level, the Arizona Supreme Court just upheld the expansion of health care to hundreds of thousands of Arizonans. But in Washington, D.C., it seems unlikely that we have seen the last of congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The Arizona Nurses Association opposed past repeal-and-replace attempts because they were projected to significantly reduce patient coverage and access to care.
Nobody knows what 2018 will bring. While we hope for a less politicized landscape, there is little evidence to suggest the health care wars are at an end. Vigilance on the part of patients and health care providers will remain essential.
For our part, the Arizona Nurses Association will continue to advocate for policies that expand access to quality, affordable care. That means putting our patients first. Just like always.
— Robin Schaeffer is executive director of the Arizona Nurses Association
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.