Healthcare reform, specifically the Affordable Care Act, (ACA) is here. The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, was signed into law in 2010. Although not all aspects of the program have been implemented, in October of 2013, some phases of the act have been rolled out.
The goal of the ACA is to improve the quality of patient care and also make healthcare more affordable to everyone. If you are a nurse, you may wonder if the act will have any effect on your job or the field of nursing. There really are no easy answers, and it’s too early to tell. But there are a few theories on how the ACA will change hospitals and possibly nursing.
An Increase in Hospital Census
It is possible people with a medical condition may not have sought help because they did not have insurance. Now with the ACA, more people may have access to health insurance. This may cause people to seek help for conditions, which were left untreated in the past. The act also prevents insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting medical conditions. This may mean more people with chronic conditions seek help. More people seeking medical care may result in an increase in your hospitals census.
Will workloads increase?
It’s difficult to know whether an increase in hospital census will result in hospitals hiring more nurses. Many different things factor into a hospital’s budget and the census is only one of them. On the other hand, hospitals may need to save money and instead of hiring more staff, increase the size of the workloads. Whether the Affordable Care Act has any impact on nursing workloads, is yet to be determined.
Patient Satisfaction Counts
In many healthcare facilities across the country patient satisfaction has always been emphasized. But with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, it may even be more of a top priority. Medicare reimbursement has been cut by about 1% to hospitals in the 2013 fiscal year. Hospitals can earn a portion of that money back based on their patient’s satisfaction scores. While every facility is different, many will likely start implementing more ways to ensure patients leave happy with the care they received.
More Opportunities for Nurse Practitioners and Case Managers
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, there is currently a shortage of primary care doctors, and the shortage is expected to grow. With the new healthcare reform laws, more people may have insurance and see their primary care doctor. If primary care doctors are in short supply, nurse practitioners may fill in the gaps.
In addition, under the new laws, Medicare payments may be withheld from hospitals if patients are readmitted within 30 days for certain conditions. This may mean more jobs for case managers who would provide follow up care to patients after they leave the hospital.
Whether you agree with the new healthcare reform laws or not, it is here. It is too early to assess what impact the new laws will have on hospitals and nurses, but it’s likely some changes will be seen.