The ACA & Nursing Homes: What Nurse Practitioners Can Expect

May 1, 2014 in Medical Careers

Elderly Couple

When running for president the first time around, Barack Obama based his entire campaign on the concept of “Change.” Now in his second term, he is making sure that change is being implemented in the biggest way with the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect on October 1. It’s no secret that this new step into affordable healthcare means adapting to a lot of new changes, especially in policies.

There isn’t any aspect of the healthcare industry that the ACA won’t affect and that includes nurse practitioners and other medical professionals on staff at the thousands of nursing homes across the country. So what can nurses working in this type of facility expect and what does it mean for nursing careers?

Show & Prove for Pay

Many nursing homes under the ACA will now have to operate under a model that rewards caregivers for their performance. If the results of patient care are sub par, then there will be no pay for those medical professionals. A prime example of where such a concept could come into play is if a patient in a nursing home has a heart attack–if the patient gets better as a result of adequate care and treatment, then the facility and its staff will receive payment. If the patient doesn’t get better or if there is an ongoing trend of decline in health linked to the quality of care, no payment will be distributed.

This means nurse practitioners must be more diligent than ever in demonstrating their skills and expertise by focusing on the care given to elderly patients during “episodes of care,” which is the term given to situations like the one described above.

Less Reliance on Hospitals

In years past, many nursing homes relied on local hospitals to take care of their “problem patients.” It wasn’t uncommon for elderly patients to be readmitted to hospitals each time their health declined or if there was a situation the nursing home felt it wasn’t equipped to handle.

The ACA hopes to prevent such a back and forth situation altogether by now penalizing nursing homes that constantly readmit its patients to the local hospitals. The hope is that the penalization will require nursing homes and its medical staff to step up their performance and ensure the health of its patients so that it doesn’t become routine to keep subjecting them to the hassle of being transported to the hospital, treated and then brought back to the home.

Building a Strong Team

The two major changes described above is just the tip of the iceberg of what nurse practitioners could expect from their work environment under the new Affordable Care Act. Because of the new policies put in place, this makes it more important than ever for nurses to come together and do their best to provide the highest quality of care for each patient.

From veteran nurses to new practitioners, this is the perfect opportunity for those working in these kind of facilities to recognize their strengths and weaknesses and how to develop a solid organization that places patient care as the utmost priority.

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