Secretary Sebelius Statement in Honor of National Nurses Week 2012

May 4, 2012

During National Nurses Week, we recognize the tremendous contributions that nurses make to keeping America healthy. As passionate advocates, leaders and innovators for better health, America’s nurses have demonstrated their commitment to meeting the public’s health care needs.

The health initiatives called for by the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act, would not be possible without our nation’s nurses. By expanding investments in primary and preventive care programs in which nurses play a vital role, the Affordable Care Act strengthens the focus on keeping people healthy and managing chronic conditions. Through the law and other efforts, the Department of Health and Human Services is working to ensure that nurses get the support and training they deserve and need to do their job.

Since the beginning of the administration, the number of mostly uninsured or under-insured patients getting care at community health centers has grown by 2.4 million people, primarily due to funding by the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act. About 16,000 nurses now work at community health centers, an expansion of about 3,000 nursing positions. With continued support from the Affordable Care Act through fiscal 2014, the number of nurses at health centers will continue to grow.

More nurses are getting assistance in securing needed training or repaying educational loans, partly through an expansion of the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), under the Health Resources and Services Administration, which ensures that primary care providers practice in  underserved areas in exchange for receiving scholarship support or loan repayment. The Affordable Care Act allocated $1.5 billion over five years to expand the NHSC.

And recognizing that better training and support for nurses will mean higher quality care for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced a four-year, $200 million Affordable Care Act demonstration partnering certain hospitals with nursing schools and non-hospital community-based care settings to provide advance practice registered nurses with clinical training to help strengthen primary care across the country.

Please join me during this National Nurses Week in thanking our nation’s nurses for the critical work they do in bringing better care and better health to all Americans.

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