On Monday, October 21, 2013, ANA government affairs staff, Jerome Mayer, Associate Director and Rose Gonzalez, PhD, MPS, RN, Director; were seated two rows behind Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services and White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough at the White House Rose Garden event regarding the Affordable Care Act. Surrounded by beneficiaries of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama focused on the benefits of the health care law, and how many individuals have actually visited the website to enroll. In her introduction of the President, Janice Baker, a small business owner and the first person in the state of Delaware to enroll for health insurance through the new market place stated she was able to save $150 a month, with lower deductibles for a plan that she is “thrilled with”.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the United States’ government experienced a partial shutdown. On October 1, 2013, after posturing from Republicans and Democrats, with no resolution, almost 800,000 government employees were furloughed, told not to report for work. As the government shutdown started its 16th day and the United States government was also approaching its debt ceiling on October 17, 2013; another plan was put forward to end the government shutdown. H.R. 2775, the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, was a bi-partisan compromise put together by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and others. The final deal passed out of the United States Senate by a vote of 81-18 and out of the House by a vote of 285-144 and was signed by the President on October 17th.
On September 9, 2013, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) announced the postponement of the durable medical equipment (DME) face-to-face signature requirement until an unspecified date in 2014. The postponement of enforcement of the rule happened after hundreds of ANA nurses wrote their members of Congress, coupled with lobbying efforts by ANA’s Washington, DC staff. ANA President, Karen A. Daley, PhD, RN, FAAN also expressed her concerns in a letter to CMS Administrator, Marilyn Tavenner MHA, RN.
Seeking to remove unnecessary barriers and expanding the breadth and availability of healthcare services using the latest telemedicine technologies, Congressmen David Nunes (R-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have introduced H.R. 3077 the “TELEheath for MEDicare Act (TELE-MED).
Even as Congress deals with challenges on how to address the country’s fiscal matters, members of Congress continue to sign up to support the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 2504/S. 1332.
ANA continues to raise awareness on Capitol Hill about two key issues that impact the nursing profession – safe staffing and safe patient handling and mobility.