Nurses. They give you shots. They take your blood. They perform vital services in the emergency room. Some of them even travel, exploring the country while saving us from chronic nurse shortages. And now they are going to improve health care in this country — or at least become a larger part of federal initiatives aimed at expanding health care access in America.
Benefactor of all things public health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently granted $500,000 to the Urban Institute to assess federal policy aimed at expanding health care access in the United States. Specifically, the Urban Institute — a social and economic policy research group — will be working to get the recommendations to a 2010 study on nursing and health insurance actually implemented.(See RWJF: Grants for Health Policy and Access).
The Institute of Medicine study, entitled "The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health," calls for an array of changes at the federal level in how nurses can influence health care policy and how U.S. health insurance companies deal with nurses. For example, wouldn't it be great if our insurers covered certain complex health services performed by nurses, so that we wouldn't have to rely on a scarce supply of doctors to fill in the gaps? The RWJF and the Urban Institute think so, and they're working on making that and a number of nurse-related health coverage policies happen.
Obviously, there's a lot of assessment that needs to done on how effective federal policies are at expanding health coverage in this country. So it's encouraging to see a team of experts (and their well-endowed donors) focused on a specific, doable, and measurable set of policy goals. In the case of the RWJF/Urban Institute alliance, these goals happen to pertain to nurses, but there is certainly room for other groups with other ideas on expanding health coverage in the United States to conduct research and to push for implementation of their ideas.
Fortunately for interested parties, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is plenty interested in funding projects related to expanding the availability of health care. In fact, the RWJF is calling for proposals on coverage expansion ideas right now. And for groups focused on the role of nurses in the future of American health care, the RWFJ is engaged in that area as well; the RWJF has funded multiple projects on enhancing the influence of nurses in the American health care system.