On November 6, 2018, Americans participated in a historic midterm election. Exercising one's right to vote is a privilege denied to many people around the world and threatened for many citizens here in the US. Despite many challenges, voter turnout was higher than usual, and some results indicated major reversals from the status quo. The new 116th US Congress, which will convene on January 3, 2019, will be the most diverse group of legislators that Washington has ever seen, with a greater number of women and non-white persons counted in the ranks.
There are may firsts among the newly elected officials. These include the first LGBTQ Kansan elected to Congress, the first openly bisexual person ever elected to the US Senate, the first Muslim women (two) elected to the House, two new Native American women elected to the House, the first black woman elected to Congress in Massachusetts, and the first Latina to represent Texas in the House. This diversity mirrors the changing demographics of the nation's population and represents the power of voices that have become more outspoken and heard in recent years.
The political landscape at many state and local jurisdictions also changed with 2018's midterm elections. However, once the candidates are elected, knowing how to influence their decisions and votes on prominent issues is equally as important. Knowing what issues candidates are willing to stand behind before voting in future elections is important to make informed choices. Do you know where your Congressional representatives stand on issues that affect nursing education, training, and practice at all levels?
Today, access to quality healthcare for everyone is a major issue. Nurses represent the majority percentage of the healthcare delivery workforce. NPs and other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) have the preparation and skills to play a major role in increasing access to healthcare, providing high-quality care, and improving healthcare outcomes. APRNs are one part of the solution to today's healthcare issues, yet barriers to practice continue to prevent their full participation.
For 31 years, The Nurse Practitioner has brought readers the Annual Legislative Update. Susanne J. Phillips, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, FAANP, has created an extraordinary compilation of the legislative status of APRN practice across the country. I applaud her commitment to collecting and reporting up-to-date, accurate, and reliable information. Preparing the update is no small task and requires coordinating multiple factors. The 2019 update includes an in-depth focus on prescribing privileges related to controlled substances regulations and restrictions across states.
Information from various sources project activities of the new 116th Congress will coalesce around healthcare issues such as improving Affordable Care Act exchanges, lowering healthcare costs, lowering prescription drug prices, securing and expanding Medicare and/or Medicaid, and addressing the opioid epidemic. Several ongoing federal issues on the NP legislative agenda include equitable reimbursement from Medicare, counting NP primary care patients in accountable care organizations, ordering home healthcare for Medicare beneficiaries, prescribing during the opioid epidemic, and stable Title VIII funding for nursing workforce development. See the Update for legislative agendas identified by individual states.
As we begin 2019, take time to review the public agendas of your elected officials. Hold the officials you support accountable for campaign pronouncements; the future health of Americans depends on the actions of everyone with a voice and a vote.
Jamesetta A. Newland, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN