Nurses head to the Hill for ANA event, Washington listens

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Nearly 430 participants in the American Nurses Association’s (ANA’s) Hill Day event shared their expertise, patient stories, and passion with Congressional members and staff during more than 300 scheduled and impromptu meetings June 8 in Washington, DC.

Representing the largest contingent ever, RNs, student nurses, and other participants from 48 states focused largely on urging federal lawmakers to protect access to affordable, quality health care and insurance coverage for all.

Visits also resulted in Congressional members on both sides of the aisle agreeing to support or co-sponsor other ANA-backed measures, including increased funding for Title VIII nursing workforce development programs, granting APRNs the authority to order home health services and develop treatment plans, and safe staffing.

Further, ANA’s virtual Hill Day led to more than 1,000 actions, with advocates sending messages on protecting health care and other key nursing issues to lawmakers via calls, letters, and social media. The event hashtag earned over one million impressions— showing the long reach of nurses’ advocacy.

Before they headed to Capitol Hill, ANA President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, welcomed the group at a breakfast briefing. She emphasized that the presence of nurses on the Hill was critical because of potential legislative action in the U.S. Senate and other uncertainties surrounding the future of health care. “Tell your stories,” Cipriano said. “There is nothing more powerful than one-on-one conversations with your members of Congress and their staff. And we have a very clear platform and principles for [health system transformation] to share.”

Also speaking to Hill Day attendees was U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), who further hammered home the message of protecting health care from potential threats. “If we do not push hard and fast, we will see the Senate kill the ACA (Affordable Care Act),” Gallego said. He added that people trust nurses, so it’s important for RNs to educate the public and policymakers about what’s at stake.

U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) spoke about the harmful effects of the American Health Care Act, which the House passed in May and ANA vehemently opposed. He spoke of a recent town hall meeting attended by some 1,100 of his constituents. “They are angry and terribly frightened about what is going to happen [with health insurance coverage],” he said.

Nurses were ready to advocate for preserving healthcare quality and access.

“With millions at risk of losing insurance [coverage], we need to advocate in a really strong voice to protect Americans’ right to health care,” said Kathryn Ormsby, MSN, FNP, ARNP, a Washington State Nurses Association board member and Hill Day participant. And Tiffany Jones, RN, a Pennsylvania State Nurses Association member, said, “Many of my patients are on Medicaid and are really sick. If they lose their coverage, I don’t know what they’ll do.”

Following the daylong event, National Student Nurses’ Association President Jennifer Kalenkoski said, “Never have I been more proud to be in nursing after a day like yesterday (Hill Day).”

To get the latest updates, learn more about ANA’s advocacy, and take action, visit RNaction.org.

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