By Chris Pirschel, Staff Writer, and Alec Stone, ONS Director of Health Policy
Nursing isn’t always just about treating illness. At times, patients are unruly, combative, and even downright dangerous to staff. Nurses are the ones standing front and center when an upset patient erupts, and it happens more often than the uninitiated public may think. A recent article in the Washington Post, catalogs some of the harrowing violence nurses have seen in the line of duty, dubbing it one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Patients aren’t always the sole source of danger either—as illustrated by the recent assault of a Utah nurse, Alex Wubbels, by a Salt Lake City police detective.
This article shines a light on the lesser-known, under-reported problem of workplace violence in nursing. According to a poll in Science Direct, more than 75% of nurses reported physical or verbal abuse in the workplace. It’s an oft-overlooked issue, but one that ONS continues to address in its advocacy efforts. Addressing workplace needs, including staff safety, is just one of ONS’s policy priorities. Get involved with ONS advocacy, and let your voice be heard.
Uninsured Rates Fall to 8.8%
Despite claims to the contrary, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to increase healthcare coverage for previously uninsured Americans. Uninsured rates have dropped to a new low of 8.8% as of 2016, according to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau. Total Americans without health insurance dropped from 29 million in 2015 to 28.1 million in 2016. That’s down from the more than 50 million uninsured Americans in 2009.
Regardless of political viewpoints, the ACA has effectively helped cover more Americans than in years prior. States expanding Medicaid to low-income individuals and providing federal subsidies to low- and middle-income earners who purchase health insurance on the state’s marketplace have helped lower uninsured rates through the several years. With health care as a central talking point in Washington, it’ll be interesting to see if anything changes in the coming months. As always, ONS will continue to advocate for access to quality cancer care for all patients.
Senate Authorizes Five-Year CHIP Deal
The Senate Finance committee has agreed to extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for the next five years. The program currently covers more than 9 million children in the United States. With the budget deadline looming at the end of September, Congress approved the funding proposal with unsurprising bipartisan support.
Each time CHIP comes up for reauthorization, it seems that Congress waits until the last minute to approve the program—but they always do. In a tense political environment where health care is a chief concern among many, CHIP is an unanimously bipartisan effort and ending the program would mean electoral suicide. Without CHIP, the ethical and financial responsibilities of providing coverage would fall entirely on individual states—most of which are ill equipped to handle that financial burden. For a Congress looking for an easy win, CHIP most certainly fit the bill.