The healthcare industry is one of the most beneficial assets for Americans in the U.S. The nurses it employs are the caregivers to our nation’s ailing and injured, and according to a Gallup.com poll in November 2012 which ranked occupations in honesty and ethics, nurses made the top of the list. So how has the passage of the AHA (Affordable Healthcare Act), aka, Obamacare, impacted our nation’s nurses? For starters, one aspect of the new law, passed in 2010, reduces the financial reimbursement to hospitals from CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) which means hospitals must contend and cope with the decrease in revenue. Under these conditions, hospitals will have no other choice but to make cuts in various areas, not excluding man-hours. With nursing jobs being the most abundant, it is likely they will be vulnerable to the cuts hospitals will be forced to make. Consider this, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012, the mean annual salary of a registered nurse working in a hospital is $69,490. By comparison, the mean annual salary of a certified nursing assistant is $30,367. Will a nursing unit of fifteen patients, which was once staffed by three nurses and one CNA, be altered to two RNs and two CNAs? This solution would result in money saved, all the while, putting more responsibility on the RNs along with allowing the hospital to claim the same staff-to-patient ratio. As it stands now, nurses spend more time in front of their computers than with patients and, subsequently, as the number of patients a nurse must take care of increases, so too will the time they spend in front of a computer, which means less time with actual patient care. The intent of Obamacare is to increase the quantity of people who have access to healthcare, which will carry the consequence of a decrease in the quality of healthcare. With this plausible dilemma, the American public must be proactive when deciding which healthcare system to choose as undoubtedly patients and their families will need to be their own advocates in the future when it comes to their health.
December 5, 2013