OPINION | Open Letter to Legislators: Why New Methods of Nurse Reimbursement Are Needed

3 Min Read Published June 30, 2023
OPINION | Open Letter to Legislators: Why New Methods of Nurse Reimbursement Are Needed

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of nurse.org

I am Stephen Day, CEO and Chairman of Heartland Clinics of America, Inc, a rural health company.  I am also serving as a Commissioner of the newly formed Commission of Nurse Reimbursement

I am not a nurse, but these nursing leaders have inspired me to participate and act on their behalf.  But today, I will shed light on a pressing issue in the healthcare industry - the need for new methods of nurse reimbursement. 

Nurses play a vital role in our healthcare system, providing essential care and support to patients. However, the current reimbursement models are outdated and fail to recognize the immense value that nurses bring to the table. It is high time we address this issue and implement new methods that reflect the true worth of nurses.

>> Related: What is the Commission For Nursing Reimbursement

First and foremost, nurses are the backbone of healthcare. They are on the front lines, working tirelessly to ensure the well-being of patients. They administer medications, monitor vital signs, provide emotional support, and carry out a multitude of other critical tasks. Despite their pivotal role, nurses often find themselves undervalued and undercompensated. 

This not only affects their morale but also hampers the quality of care they can provide. We must acknowledge
that fair reimbursement is essential to attract and retain skilled and dedicated nurses in the profession.

Secondly, the healthcare landscape has undergone significant changes in recent years. Technological advancements, changing 
patient demographics, and the increasing complexity of medical treatments require nurses to continually update their skills and knowledge. This demands ongoing education and professional development opportunities. However, many nurses face financial barriers when it comes to pursuing advanced degrees or attending specialized training programs. By implementing new reimbursement models, we can alleviate these financial burdens and promote a culture of lifelong learning among nurses, ultimately enhancing patient care outcomes.

Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize the evolving role of nurses in healthcare delivery. Nurses are no longer confined to traditional hospital settings. They are increasingly providing care in community clinics, home healthcare, and telehealth settings. This expanded scope of practice requires a reevaluation of reimbursement methods. We need innovative approaches that account for the diverse settings in which nurses practice and appropriately compensate them for their contributions across the healthcare continuum.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities in our healthcare system and highlighted the critical role of nurses in emergency response. Nurses have been at the forefront, risking their lives to care for patients affected by the virus. They have shown resilience, adaptability, and unwavering dedication. It is only fair that their reimbursement reflects the sacrifices they have made and the extraordinary efforts they have put forth.

As business leaders, we must be alert to the HIGH-RISK FACTORS that come from the exodus of nurses leaving their professions.  This exodus is not just about compensation.  It is also the overcrowding and understaffing of most hospitals and clinics across America.  Nurses are often regarded as necessary overhead and every healthcare executive wants to reduce overhead.  Reducing the RNs on staff makes great cost savings, but at great risk.  By allowing nurses to be billable, much like physical therapists or mental health counselors, the burden of overhead is greatly reduced.  Hospitals and clinics can make more and provide a greater level of care for their patients.  

The patient/nurse ratio must be kept reasonable. A C-Suite, which is driven to cut costs, does so at the risk of losing clinicians AND losing patients.  Poor care is NOT the fault of the clinicians. It is the fault of the leadership and Board of Directors.  BLAME THEM, NOT THE NURSES OR PHYSICIANS. 

In conclusion, the need for new methods of nurse reimbursement cannot be overstated. Nurses are the lifeblood of our healthcare system, and their contributions should be recognized and adequately compensated. By implementing fair and modern reimbursement models, we can attract and retain highly skilled nurses, promote lifelong learning, adapt to changing healthcare needs, and ultimately improve patient outcomes. It is our responsibility to ensure that nurses receive the respect and reimbursement they truly deserve. Let us stand together and champion this cause for the betterment of our healthcare system and the well-being of our society.

Please join this movement.  

If you have questions or thoughts, feel free to contact me or the Commission.  

Thank you.

Stephen Day

Stephen Day
CEO, Heartland Clinics of America, Inc.
Stephen Day
Nurse.org Contributor

A well-regarded Healthcare executive and Corporate Board expert, Mr. Day has been involved in firms engaged in healthcare, life sciences, defense, national and homeland security, and emergency management. Mr. Day founded Heartland Clinics of America, Inc. to address the rural health deserts across America.  

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