August 10, 2010

The Center for American Progress released a paper and held a press conference on community health centers. Ellen-Marie Whelan, PhD, RN, Associate Director and Senior Policy Analyst for the Center, provided an overview of the paper that was picked up by C-SPAN. Nurse-managed health centers could help the nation to ramp up its CHC infrastructure and ability to provide comprehensive primary care and wellness/health promotion services to underserved populations. These practices face numerous barriers, including the failure of some private insurers to credential advanced practice registered nurses who practice there and to pay for their services; refusal of the National Commission for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to recognize nurse managed centers as ‘medical homes’ because they are nurse-led rather than physician-led, despite meeting all of the other criteria; and problems with accessing federal funding to build the infrastructure for health information technology. Why are these barriers persisting in a time when the nation needs to scale up its primary care and health promotion services? Organized medicine continues to engage in turf battles with nursing and other disciplines that expose their primary concern for their own special interests rather than promoting access to affordable, high quality care. But, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, nurse-managed centers’ time has come.  Time for change–change that will put the interests of the public first.

Diana J. Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, Rudin Professor of Nursing