The midterm elections are Tuesday, November 4. As nurse practitioners, we are committed patient advocates. Voting is one of the most important ways we can advocate for our patients, profession and community. It is critical that you get out and vote for federal, state and local candidates who support the issues most important to advancing child health. It is also critical that you make informed decisions and tell your family, friends and colleagues about APRN friendly candidates!
Nurse practitioners are more powerful than we realize. We are on the front lines of health care and know the real impact that government policies have on our patients and our practice. We know the problems with current healthcare policies and effective strategies to solve these problems. We have the opportunity and responsibility to amplify the PNP voice and elect legislators who support children’s health and well-being and the nursing profession. It’s important that you make informed decisions when you vote. The best way to do this is to visit the websites of your candidates, and take an hour or two to see who our real supporters are.
It does not matter which party you support. Positive, effective child health and professional nursing policies are non-partisan. Government leaders on all levels, from hometown officials to our leaders in Congress, need to understand nurse practitioners. We should seek to elect candidates who support our policy interests. The key is to focus not on politics but on the issues themselves. We should form our own opinions on key policy issues and elect the candidates who most closely represent our values and share our opinions.
There are several key issues at stake for nurse practitioners and the patients and families we serve. We believe that newly elected officials will need to act on the following:
- Affordable Care Act – There has been much debate on all sides over whether to repeal, replace or revise this piece of legislation. The Democratic and Republican parties have clearly defined positions on this issue. The outcome of federal races will have a big impact on our patients and our practice. State legislators have a lot of influence, too. Do you know their positions?
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Reauthorization – Without congressional action, federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program will expire at the end of 2015, leaving millions of children without health care insurance coverage. NAPNAP has actively campaigned for congressional funding for CHIP, and we believe that it is critical that Congress acts to reauthorize this important program.
- Budget and Appropriations - The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs are the primary source of federal funding for nursing education. The growing nursing shortage directly affects every aspect of the U.S. healthcare system. A sufficient supply of nurses and advanced practice nurses is critical in providing our nation’s population with quality health care now and into the future. Title VIII holds the promise of addressing many of the challenges facing nursing but this promise cannot be met without a significant increase in funding.
How Can You Make a Difference?
The easiest and most important thing that you can do –
Make sure you are registered to vote and find out your polling location and its hours. Ask your colleagues and patients if they are registered to vote and encourage them to go to the polls. Take advantage of early voting if it’s available in your area.
Before you vote, study the candidates, know where they stand on the issues, and determine which candidate deserves your vote. It is important to look beyond the campaign ads on television and research the candidate’s background and voting record. You can find out more through the candidate’s official campaign website. If they are a federal incumbent, check his or her record by visiting their official office page through www.house.gov and www.senate.gov.
Other helpful websites that can help you research candidates and issues include:
Nursing Community - www.thenursingcommunity.org
American Nurses Association – www.rnaction.org
NAPNAP’s Advocacy Pages - www.napnap.org/advocacy
The laws that these elected officials pass will determine the level of health care and access to care children will receive. These laws will determine how we practice and what we can do for our patients. It takes all of us getting involved in order to affect real change. Vote and let your voice be heard!
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the coming election. What are the local, state and national issues that matter most to you?
Please VOTE on November 4!
Yours in health,