Monday September 16th 2019

ANA Lobby Day: Let the advocacy begin

Some 260 RNs headed to Capitol Hill July 22 for more than 270 scheduled visits with policymakers and their staff to discuss the importance of Title VIII nursing workforce development funding, as well as legislation on safe staffing, home health care and improving veterans’ access to care as part of the American Nurses Association Lobby Day. Additionally, more than 1,500 nurses made their voices and viewpoints heard by participating virtually in a social media campaign — greatly increasing nursing’s impact.

Cipriano welcomes some 260 RNs to ANA Lobby Day.

Before their Capitol Hill visits, Lobby Day participants attended a breakfast briefing at the Renaissance Washington, DC, Downtown Hotel, where ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, welcomed them.

“I come from Jefferson-land, and we reflect on him a lot there [in Virginia],” Cipriano said. “ Jefferson once said that Americans do not have government by the majority — ‘we have government by the majority who participate.’ That’s so true.

“Today, is the day we are taking Capitol Hill by storm, both on foot and through our fingertips. If there’s one thing I know for certain, it’s that when nurses talk — Washington listens.”

Also speaking at the event was U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), who thanked nurses for the difference they make in health care and the lives of so many Americans.

“The best champions for health care have been nurses,” said Lujan Grisham, who’s been a tireless advocate for long term care, public health and greater access to care issues. She noted that nurses provide care often in the most difficult of situations; and they enhance care and do the right thing in a health care system that is plagued with financial issues.

She stressed the importance of federally investing in the nursing workforce and having safe staffing in all work environments, from primary to acute to long term care.

Lobby Day participants also were presented with more information on ANA-supported legislation, including the Registered Nurse Safe Staffing Act (H.R. 2083/ S. 1132). This measure, introduced by U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and U.S. Reps. Lois Capps (D-CA) and David Joyce (R-OH), presents a balanced approach to ensure adequate RN staffing by recognizing that direct care nurses, working closely with managers, are best equipped to determine the staffing level for their patients.

New Mexico Nurses Association members with their U. S. Representative during Lobby Day (from left): Executive Director Deborah Walker, President Leigh DeRoos, Rep. Lujan Grisham; and Lucinda Yates.

Another federal bill targeted for Lobby Day was the Home Health Care Planning and Improvement Act (H.R.1342/ S. 578).  Introduced by U.S. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Ron Kind (D-WI) and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Charles Schumer (D-NY), this measure allows advanced practice registered nurses to order home health services under Medicare in accordance with state law.

Yet another focus was promoting the Veterans Access to Care Act (H.R. 1247), introduced by U.S. Reps. Sam Graves (R-MO) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). It grants APRNs full practice authority, which will help address delays in health care at Veterans Health Administration facilities.

Nurses also were asked to urge lawmakers to support the Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2713). Title VIII programs provide the largest source of federal funding for nursing education, offering financial support for nursing education programs, individual students and nurses.

Making their way down the halls of Congress, Virginia representatives prepare to meet with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner’s staff.

“I’m very concerned about the lack of nurse educators, so I want to advocate for more funding [for nursing workforce development],” said Virginia Lobby Day participant Lisa Retting, BSN, RNC-MNN, IBCLC, who works at a Virginia hospital and is a member of the Nevada Nurses Association.

Another Lobby Day participant, Virginia Nurses Association member Kristi Morgan, MSN, RN, CCRN, said, “At heart, I’m an advocate. I’m here to improve patient outcomes, which is also why I went into nursing.”

Added surgical unit nurse May Soe, RN-BC, “I’m really passionate about safe staffing. It’s pertinent to our job and the safety of our patients. It’s one of the issues we’re promoting here today, and it’s my focus.”

Using a social media tool Thunderclap, 1,562 nurse advocates reached 614,000+ people in just 15 minutes.

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