Policy Priority Issue

Addresses access to health care as the policy issue of concern.

Demonstrate the importance and impact of the chosen policy issue to nursing.

Policy Priority Issue: Access to Health Care

This paper addresses access to health care as the policy issue of concern. For people to enjoy high-quality care, they must have the necessary resources to reach it. Such resources include healthcare facilities, drugs, healthcare professionals, and insurance covers among others. The measure to which people have such resources as well as their ability to use them is what care accessibility entails. When care is accessible, it means that there is an adequate supply of services, an opportunity to use it, and that people could use it at the time they need it. The issue of care accessibility is crucial for a nurse as well as the nursing profession. It is the focus of a nurse and the nursing profession to ensure that patients get the services they require. This means that nurses must have the resources necessary for practice for them to serve their patients. If such resources are unavailable, inadequate, unaffordable, or limited to particular groups, then patients would not access quality nursing services.

The Existing Problem in Access to Health Care

Access to health care in the US is an area of concern with studies revealing disparities to the use of services along different markers. Mandal reported that a significant portion of the American population cannot enjoy quality health services owing to factors such as lack of health insurance, financial resources, and health care professionals. The observer also noted obstacles to the access of health services such as structural, age, legal, and language barriers as well as irregularities of care sources as determinants causing limited care accessibility in the country (2014).So as to address these factors, there may be a need to campaign for the adoption of certain changes in the current policies.  The prioritized issues in such campaigns would purpose to increase and measure care accessibility. Health care promotion agencies have recommended approaches that would increase care accessibility and its measurement so that it is appropriate, safe, effective, and inclusive of preventive strategies (HealthyPeople.gov., 2014). The institutions have also advocated that such measures address the diverse requirements of populations as well as the safety of palliative, emergency, and long-term forms of care (HealthyPeople.gov, 2014).The Affordable Care Act of the US is worth mentioning on matters concerning care accessibility. Researchers and statisticians noted that since the institution of the ACA, there had been an increase in the number of insured persons and people’s visits to healthcare professionals, though it did not necessarily impact on the degree to which the population specialized at particular health care institutions (Martinez, Ward, & Adams, 2015).However, despite its huge achievements, ACA would require changes so that it addresses other factors affecting care accessibility other than affordability. Critiques have noted that while the act emphasizes on affordability, it does not necessarily promote accessibility in that it fails to ensure that users enjoy quality care. Critiques have argued that the Act has been associated with poorer services as patients flock in healthcare institutions. They point out that there has been increased waiting times as the Act only increases the number of patients reaching hospitals with minimal consideration for the available healthcare professionals as well as medical facilities (Anderson, 2014).From such a perspective, it is evident that ACA needs significant modifications so that its users can access high-quality medical services.

Critique of Empirical Evidence

            Fiscella (2011) investigated America’s progress in the provision of health services and noted that for the recent decades, the country has not fully addressed health care disparities that limit people’s access to care (Pg. 78). However, the researcher noted that the ongoing reforms may have significant impact on health services accessibility and equity of care. The researcher noted that through extensive insurance covers, the reforms might cause remarkable improvements on accessibility of care. Fiscella pointed out that people’s access to care varied with their ethnicity, economic status, and social status (2011, Pg. 78).There are other research works supporting observation that significant disparities exist and that they are accelerated by social factors such as homelessness (Hwang, Ueng, Chiu, Kiss, Tolomiczenko, Cowan, Redelmeier, 2010). Further research shows that such disparities root from county levels. In the year 2006, for example, research indicated that Massachusetts outdid New England in the reduction of health care access disparities (Zhu, Brawarsky, Lipsitz, Huskamp, & Haas, 2010, Pg. 1356). According to Zhu et al., the provision of equitable care would require more specific interventions than general reforms (2010, pg. 1356). In addition, measures of improving care accessibility among the American population should address not only the availability of services, but also its quality. It is also recommendable that the measures focus on vulnerable groups such as the aged and homeless, as they would most likely have difficulties reaching quality services (Hwang et al., 2010).

The Importance of Care Accessibility to Nursing

            Nursing is a primary discipline in calling for healthcare reforms (Hassmiller, 2010).Nurses play important roles in serving patients and they would have knowledge concerning factors that influence care accessibility among their clients as well as measures that would help overcome them. The professionals also play directly in influencing the quality, equitability, availability, and timeliness of care that patients get. From a different perspective, nurses offer services such as prevention of diseases, managing patients with chronic ailments, and offering humanitarian care such as that of compassion and comfort. This shows that the professionals play a wide variety of roles in serving patients. As such, their involvement in reforms that seek to improve care accessibility would be necessary.

Agencies that Give Updates on Care Accessibility

            Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an example of agencies that give updates on care accessibility among different populations in the US (Martinez, Ward, & Adams, 2015). The agency gives descriptions of measures such as people’s access to personal doctors, their interaction with nurses, exploitation of medical, dental, and pharmacy services among other determinants. Healthy People 2020 is also a proactive agency in monitoring accessibility of health care among US populations. The initiative has described the expectations of health care stakeholders concerning people’s ability to exploit and enjoy quality medical services (HealthyPeople.gov, 2014). In most cases, the issue of care accessibility affects healthcare from the national level. Policies that have most influence on care accessibility such as the ACA are federal institutions. Overcoming the disparities seen in the health system would require the modification of such federal institutions. However, evidence has indicated that there are significant disparities among counties and states, and therefore, it is important to first address the disparities at these lower levels before focusing on the larger national setup (Zhu et al., 2010). As such, this assignment addresses care accessibility with emphasis on the local level.

Conclusion

            There are significant hindrances to care accessibility in the United States. The disparities are more evident along the lines of social status, ethnicity, financial abilities, as well as culture. Though most of the influential policies of access to health care are designed at the federal level, studies show that the implementation of such policies at the local and state levels accounts significantly to the occurrence of the inaccessibility disparities. It would be important to modify the existing policies so that they address factors such as the quality of care and ease to use it in addition to focusing on its availability. The nursing profession should play centrally in such reforms.

References

Anderson, A. (2014). The impact of the affordable care act on health care workforce.The Heritage Foundation.

Fiscella, K. (2011). Health Care Reform and Equity: Promise, Pitfalls, and Prescriptions. Annals of Family Medicine, 9(1), 78–84.

Hassmiller, S. (2010).Nursing’s role in health care reforms.American Nurse Today, 5(9).

Healthy People.gov.(2014). Access to health services.Us Department of Health and Human Services

Hwang, S. W., Ueng, J. J. M., Chiu, S., Kiss, A., Tolomiczenko, G., Cowan, L., …Redelmeier, D. A. (2010). Universal health insurance and health care access for homeless persons. American Journal of Public Health, 100(8), 1454–1461.

Kottke, T. E., &Isham, G. J. (2010).Measuring health care access and quality to improve health in populations.Preventing Chronic Disease, 7(4), 73.

Mandal, A. (2014, August 6). Disparities in access to health care.

Martinez, M. E., Ward, B. W., &Adams, P. F. (2015).Health care access and utilization among adults aged 18–64, by race and Hispanic origin: United States, 2013 and 2014. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. Zhu, J., Brawarsky, P., Lipsitz, S., Huskamp, H., & Haas, J. S. (2010).Massachusetts health reform and disparities in coverage, access and health status.Journal of General Internal Medicine

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