Melissa Gray posted Jun 9, 2018 1:16 PM
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I chose the topic of access to health care services. Healthy People 2020 list the barriers to health care as the cost of health care, lack of insurance or inadequate health insurance, the availability of health care services, and locating health care services that are culturally capable and competent (HealthyPeople, 2018, para. 1-4). As a nurse practitioner, we are unable to offer preventative measure, treat chronic and acute illnesses and disease, and ensure healthy lifestyles if patients can’t even access their health care services. We must overcome the barriers to ensure everyone has access to health care.
Looking primarily at veterans health care, the process to even qualify for health care is extensive and prevents veterans from even seeking health care. For those who ultimately qualify, the wait time for 36% of veterans was 59 days and for those veterans on the Choice program the wait time was 84 days (Office of Inspector General, 2017, p. ii). Their is absolutely no reason for anyone to wait 84 days to see a primary care provider. For veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or diagnosed with a mental illness, the average wait time for the approval for care and the appointment is approximately 125 days (Office of Inspector General, 2017, pg. 1-99). Whether it be in the civilian health sector or the Veterans Administration, access to health care should be readily available without denial or increased wait times.
During the 1950’s to 1960’s, specialized medicine began to expand creating a shortage of primary care physicians and wait times for patients to see their primary care provider. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 allowed nurse practitioners to receive reimbursement for care provided and allowed millions of individuals to receive health care who were previously unable. “As of November 2014, 19 states have a full scope of practice, 19 states have a reduced scope of practice, and 12 states have a restricted scope of practice. Today, there are more than 192,000 nurse practitioners in the United States” (Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences, 2014, para. 1-11).
Continuing to advocate on behalf of the nurse practitioner and their role in primary care and access to health care is important in ensuring timely quality care. Not only should we be involved in research to provide the quality care, we should be involved in legislation to expand our role to function independently and offer services to areas where access to primary care are experiencing shortages and delays in care.
Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences. (2014). History of nurse
practitioners in the United States, Retrieved from https://onlinenursing.
VA Office of Inspector General. (2017). Veterans Health Administration audit of
veteran wait time data, choice access, and consult management in VISN 6
Retrieved from https://www.va.gov/oig/pubs/VAOIG-16-02618-424.pdf
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