The Power of Nursing Makes Itself Known on Capitol Hill: ANA Hill Day 2019
The Power of Nursing Makes itself known on Capitol Hill
ANA Hill Day, Thursday, June 20, 2019
As part of ANA’s annual Hill Day, last Thursday nurses, students and other leaders met with members of Congress and their staff to build support for federal legislation addressing workplace violence, funding for nurse workforce development programs, and APRNs’ ability to order home health care services.
Over 400 participants—with more expected – from 48 states shared their perspectives and expertise during hundreds of scheduled visits on Capitol Hill. And thousands from across the country were expected to urge federal policymakers to support ANA-backed legislation on workplace violence prevention as part of a Virtual Hill Day event.
First up, participants attended a breakfast briefing, where they learned more about ANA-supported legislation and were welcomed by ANA President Ernest Grant, PhD, RN, FAAN.
“The broader public needs you to be advocating just as much as an individual patient needs their nurses advocating for them at the bedside,” said Grant, who will join participants in meeting with federal lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Richard Burr from his home state of North Carolina. “Rest assured, the people with whom you’re meeting are relying on nursing’s perspective, so they can better serve you and your patients.”
In a new event, Grant held ANA’s Hill Day version of a “fireside chat” with the newest nurse to join the 116th Congress, U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL).
“I’ve been a member of ANA for a long time, and it’s a thrill and honor to be here,” said Underwood, MSN, MPH, RN, who worked on implementing the Affordable Care Act while serving in the Obama administration. It was her concerns about several legislative attempts to repeal the ACA and take away protections for people with preexisting conditions that led her to run for Congress.
“Health care was the No. 1 issue in our elections, and health care is a human right,” said Underwood who continues to push for efforts to protect and ensure people’s access to affordable care.
She also addressed the “biggest challenge” -- the Senate’s refusal to take up bills sent from the House for consideration. So, Underwood encouraged nurses to compel Senators – both Republican and Democrat – whom they are meeting with today to support the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act.
“There’s nothing controversial about Title VIII and having more nurses in our country,” Underwood said.
She also urged participants to meet with their representatives in Congress in their home district offices.
“Make it your business to find out who your Congress member is and meet with them,” Underwood said. “Talk about what is important to you. Talk with confidence. You are the experts.”
She added that the most powerful thing nurses have is their patient stories, and all the factors that affect someone’s health.
The three key bills that Hill Day attendees are calling attention to are:
- The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (R. 1309/S. 851)
- The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (R. 2150/ S. 296)
- The Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act of 2019 (R. 728/S. 1399)
Additionally, participants addressed the importance of nurse staffing as ANA continues to work with federal policymakers on this critical nurse and patient safety issue.
The Iowa nursing delegation was fortunate to be able to meet with Senator Grassley, Representatives King and Representative Loebsack. Although not able to visit with Senator Ernst and Representative Finkenauer, they were able to visit with staff members.
Nursing is so much more than advocating for the patient at the bedside. Advocating for the patient and the health of the country through legislation is a duty and an honor. Those interested in becoming more involved with INA to one day join us on “the Hill”. It is an experience of a lifetime!