Vermont Nurse Practitioner Testifies Before Congress About Primary Care Workforce Needs
WASHINGTON, D.C., Tuesday, April 23, 2013 – In her testimony today before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, Deborah Wachtel, Vermont's state representative for the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), addressed the nation's primary care workforce needs and the vital contributions of nurse practitioners in the field.
Ms. Wachtel urged the Committee to remove barriers that prevent nurse practitioners from practicing to the full scope of their education and training – restrictions that make it increasingly difficult for patients to access primary health care services, especially given the shortage of primary care physicians. She also shared insights on the health care environment in Vermont, where nurse practitioners have full practice authority.
"Now is the time to give consumers the freedom to choose among all qualified providers, just as we have in Vermont," said Wachtel. "My nurse practitioner colleagues and I stand ready to serve our patients in all areas of health care and look forward to working with this committee and Congress to ensure patients' needs are met."
"Nurse practitioners play an important role in the provision of primary health care," said Senator Bernard Sanders (I) (VT), Chair of the Senate Subcommittee, "and we need to support nurse practitioner training programs and address faculty shortages so that the profession can continue to grow to meet the significant need across the country."
Deborah Wachtel, ANP, MPH, MS has served patients as a nurse practitioner since 1986 and as a registered nurse since 1975. She is pursuing a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) and holds a Master's Degree in Nursing and a Master's Degree in Public Health. In addition to her work providing comprehensive care for people with chronic disease related to diabetes, obesity and other endocrine disorders, Ms. Wachtel volunteers at The People's Health and Wellness Clinic in rural Vermont where she provides primary care to those without health insurance. In addition to her role as Vermont's state representative for the AANP, Ms. Wachtel serves as a Governor-appointed Commissioner on the Vermont Blue Ribbon Commission on Nursing and as President of the Vermont Nurse Practitioner Association. She also represents nurse practitioners on the Vermont Action Coalition and is a member of the Executive Committee of The Vermont Blueprint for Health.
Read Ms. Wachtel's full testimony.
In January, AANP released its full federal legislative agenda, which included:
• Passing the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act
• Including NPs in Medicaid Primary Care Incentive Payments
• Providing Stable, Sufficient Funding for Nurse Education Programs
• Enabling NP Patients to be Beneficiaries in Medicare Shared Savings Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)
• Authorizing NPs to Complete Admission Examinations for Patients Referred to Skilled Nursing Facilities
• Authorizing NPs to Certify Medicare Patients' Eligibility for Initial Admission to Hospice Care
• Following Recommendations of the Institute of Medicine