What Travel Nurses Could Expect with a Potential ACA Repeal & Replacement?
This article is sponsored by Travel Nurse Across America®
By Katie McBeth — Originally published at www.thegypsynurse.com on April 4, 2017.
As anyone might expect, the year of a presidential ‘change of power’ is sure to draw excitement from half the nation, and hesitation from the other half.
Many nurses were affected when President Obama brought about healthcare reform, but now changes could be on the horizon yet again. The American Health Care Act (AHCA or “Trumpcare”) recently made its appearance on the House floor and failed, but many believe the fight isn’t over yet. Although it is facing some strong opposition, what can nurses expect to see from a new healthcare law? Will it affect travel nurses, too?
This year it seems the nation has reached a whole new level of division. With so much on the line, it’s easy to get lost in the miasma of news and scandal. But nurses should be on guard as many of the upcoming new policies that the president and some members of the GOP would like to implement regarding a national healthcare plan might affect you directly.
Here are five things travel nurses can expect to see changed if the AHCA is resurrected and successfully makes its way through Congress.
1.) A Rise in Medical Tourism
An interesting potential outcome coming out of the AHCA predictions is a rise in medical tourism. During the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans were seeking out over-the-border medical care. Dental procedures, drugs, and cosmetic procedures were all cheaper in developing countries, and many insurance companies in America either refused to cover the services, or only covered a portion. This created a unique niche for the medical tourism industry in places like Mexico, Thailand, and elsewhere; where procedures were practiced by experienced and licensed professionals, but at a fraction of the American cost.
However, experts expect that medical tourism could see a rise in traditional care, versus elective procedures. This is due to the potential loss in funding for Medicaid and Medicare programs; a common target of the GOP. Sufferers of chronic illnesses or potentially those with life-threatening conditions could opt for cheaper services abroad. Surgeries and other invasive procedures will be performed overseas, while post op and follow up care will be done in the states.
This might cause problems for nurses and doctors, as they must communicate with international hospitals to provide the best care for their patients. Accurate documentation on electronic health records will be more important than ever. It is also possible that travel nurses with fluency in a second language might be favored over others that only speak English.
2.) Rise in Advanced Chronic Illness
Analysts are predicting that those most affected by a GOP-created health care plan are the poor, sick, and elderly. This is due to potential cuts in Medicaid funding, as well as extended freedom to insurance companies that will allow them to raise their rates yet again. However, this could bode poorly for medical professionals.
With a potential rise in uninsured, as well as the ever advancing rise in chronic illness, doctors and nurses could be seeing patients that have advanced cases that are more difficult to treat. Sufferers of chronic illness could avoid care in an attempt to save money, only to further advance their condition into dangerous territory, making preventable symptoms irreversible.
3.) Concerns About Mental Health
One of the top benefits of the ACA was its emphasis on mental health care. Although the bill still provided some obstacles for patients, the ACA provided “mental and behavioral health coverage in the ten essential benefits that must be covered by plans participating in federal exchanges and Medicaid,” according to researchers at Wake Forest University.
However, with the AHCA, as well as potential cuts to Medicaid for low-income Americans, there could be a chance that mental health services will no longer be an option. This could create some serious problems for mental illness sufferers, as well as those who struggle with addiction.
In hospital settings, this could mean increased admittance of opioid overdoses, as well as advanced and untreated mental health conditions. Additionally, patients might seek out the advice and help of nurses so as to avoid paying out-of-pocket to see psychiatrists and therapists. In one interview with USA Today, Linda Rosenberg with the National Council for Behavioral Health stated: “the cuts to Medicaid that would result from enactment of the American Health Care Act would lead to more overdose deaths and higher costs due to incarceration and emergency room visits. […] ‘Many will instead end up homeless, in jail or dead.’”
4.) Loss of Jobs in the Healthcare Field
With the repeal of the ACA on the horizon, many state hospitals are preparing to lose millions of dollars. The AHCA could raise the number of people that are uninsured, which would in turn raise many of the costs of having health care. If people are avoiding paying for health services to save money, this could lead to massive layoffs and further the nursing shortage crisis in America.
Women’s health care clinics are perhaps the most at-risk from losing funding from the AHCA. Planned Parenthood in particular is being targeted, and patients who rely on Medicaid funding might not be able to utilize the facility’s many benefits; from cancer screenings, to family planning services. This could be devastating for their budget, and could force many clinics to close their doors. Patients won’t be covered, and providers won’t be paid.
5.) Additional Challenges for International Travel Nurses
The new healthcare law is not the only source of concern for travel nurses. Trump’s crack down on immigration, particularly in relation to his travel ban, has created unique problems for international travel nurses.
Additionally, Trump’s departure from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has created challenges for nurses from Canada and Mexico to study and practice within the United States. Instead of allowing them to utilize their TN visas, travel nurses were denied renewals. According to a Medscape report: “But under recent stricter interpretations by US Customs and Border Protection (CPB), advanced practice nurses and advanced clinical nurse practitioners are no longer eligible to work under the old RN category and must now apply for H-1B visas. The latter cover specialized positions for foreign workers from any country and can cost several thousand dollars per applicant for expedited processing.” Unfortunately, this has created serious problems for hospitals near the Mexican or Canadian border, and these facilities are preparing for massive understaffing issues.
Qualified international nurses are in high demand, but they might be hard pressed to enter the United States. Same for nurses traveling from the US to other areas of the world. Already Iran and the EU are considering banning American travelers or requiring visas for travel.
As the 2017 political landscape continues to change, travel nurses might be facing daily changes and hurdles. It’s possible that many of the aforementioned concerns will not come to fruition, but it is best to be prepared for some potential challenges. No matter what happens, travel nurses will need to stay educated on the issues so they can provide the best service possible for their patients.
About Travel Nurse Across America:
Travel Nurse Across America places registered nurses on multi-week travel nursing assignments in healthcare facilities across all 50 states. We offer our travel nurses a comprehensive benefits package that includes paid sick leave, travel expense reimbursement up to $1,000, all necessary licenses and certifications paid or reimbursed, day-one insurance, and multiple bonus opportunities. Whatever adventure you seek — exciting locations, higher pay or the opportunity to advance your skills — TNAA’s experienced recruiters are ready to help you grow your nursing career through travel nursing. For more information, visit Travel Nurse Across America.