By Christine Whitmarsh
The recent government stimulus package is a mind boggling, eyesight blurring 1,071 pages long. As a nurse, I was naturally curious about the healthcare provisions included in the bill. Except I wasn’t any more interested in making the stimulus package into a “War and Peace” style reading assignment, than apparently the members of congress were. Fortunately, the folks at U.S. News & World Report provided a handy summary of how the stimulus package will affect healthcare. I’ve added my own comments about potential implications on nursing, travel nursing and all the medical and patient care issues in between.
Stimulus Package Healthcare Highlights:
-Total investment in health: $14.2 billion
-$19 billion will go towards Medicare and Medicaid incentives. I’m hoping that is code for reimbursement based on my conversations with hospital executives lately. Also included in the $19 billion are actions to increase the use of technology in clinical settings like doctors’ offices and hospitals. The goal here seems to be automating the charting and communication of patient care, improving the quality of care and increasing efficiency and save money for healthcare consumers.
I mentioned in a previous blog, how automated, standard computer charting can help travel nurses acclimate to new hospital settings. Hopefully this provision will benefit staff and travel nurses alike by streamlining what is often time consuming administrative work.
-$1 billion is devoted to prevention and wellness programs including funding to “fight preventable diseases and conditions with evidence-based strategies.” Since homeopathic, complementary, prevention and wellness medicine is one of the cornerstones of nursing, I can only hope that this money is invested wisely. Preventable (in most cases) diseases such as heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes and COPD are taking far too many American lives. It is far more economical to treat these diseases before they occur by investing in wellness strategies, than it is to wait until it’s nearly too late. One of the most enjoyable facets of nursing for me was teaching patients and their families how to be well and letting the results speak for themselves.
-$10 billion has been earmarked for biomedical research in the areas of cancers, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, stem cells and to improve associated research facilities. Ideally, this would have a similar impact on nursing as prevention programs – understand and prevent the diseases before they occur.
-$1.1 billion to various healthcare research and quality assurance agencies to assess how effective America’s health care services and treatment plans are.
What do you think of the healthcare allocations in the stimulus package? What is missing, what is unnecessary and what will the impacts be on nursing? Please leave a comment with your feedback. Thanks!
*Source of Raw Data: U.S. News & World Report
Christine Whitmarsh is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from the University of Rhode Island. She is a freelance health journalist and medical writer and a contributor to Travel Nurse Source and Allied Travel Careers.