Part 3: Nurses on Healthcare Issues Presidential Candidates Should Be Talking About But Aren’t
By Danielle Schroth

InCrowd conducted a microsurvey to ask 200 US nurses about the Affordable Care Act, impediments to quality patient care, and the candidates’ healthcare policies.  We are exploring nurses’ perceptions and reactions in a special 3-part blog series. For the last piece, we delve into nurses’ perceptions of healthcare policies and this current presidential election.

In the first two parts of this series, we  covered what nurses feel are impediments to quality care and their views on the Affordable Care Act.  In our third and final installment, we asked nurses which healthcare issues the 2016 presidential candidates need to focus on, and who they think would do the best job addressing healthcare issues.  Read on to find out what they said.

Our Mental Health Matters

In part 2 we covered nurses’ hurdles to delivering quality care and the lack of follow up care and basic treatment for those suffering from behavioral health issues.  Unsurprisingly, nurses also identified mental health as a pivotal issue that candidates need to address during the election no matter who wins the presidency.  For too long, behavioral health has been a topic that gets swept under the rug and lacks attention from politicians and funding from the government.  “Mental health care needs need to be expanded and destigmatized,”  said a nurse from Michigan.

Most of the remaining candidates have addressed behavioral health issues in their healthcare plans. However,  identifying an issue and creating an actionable plan for it are two very different things. The latter is harder to find in the candidates’ proposals, and nurses are ready for change.  One of the major institutional issues in treating the behavioral health of Americans is financial.  Therefore, the cost of mental health insurance and treatment  was another major focus from InCrowd’s nurses.

Medications, Insurance, Screenings… and the List Goes On

The high cost of insurance was another important healthcare issue for nurses.  Nurses are in  the unique position as  both caregivers and patients. So affordability is top of mind as it  impacts  their ability to treat patients and the quality of care they themselves receive.   Medications, insurance, screenings — all things  that should be affordable and high quality are not readily available to many Americans.  A floor nurse from New Jersey summed up the gap that still exists: “Paying high amounts of money for insurance and still barely covers anything.”

There is a limited amount of regulation and standardization within and between insurance companies. Healthcare professionals and patients are often left with the complicated task of figuring out or explaining what treatment is needed versus what they can afford.   Then there is the issue of reimbursing providers for treatment in a straightforward manner that actually covers the cost of care.

“Downsizing of health insurance companies in order to fairly reimburse providers for their services and the return of the super bill so that patients can afford to make affordable payments for the services they receive,” said a nurse from Tennessee about the changes he would like to see.

How the Candidates Stack Up

The American Nursing Association endorsed Hillary Clinton in March but that doesn’t mean she has the support of all US nurses.  We asked respondents to name the candidate(s) running for President they felt best addressed the healthcare concerns are important to them.

We allowed participants to choose candidates who may have already dropped out of the race when we surveyed them in April. Twelve percent of these nurses mentioned Dr. Ben Carson, citing his healthcare background. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each got  15% mention by  respondents.  Donald Trump was right behind with 13%. Ted Cruz was mentioned by 10% of nurses.

Possibly the most telling of all was that one out of every four respondents — or nearly 25 percent — didn’t think any of the candidates had adequately addressed health care issues during the campaign and therefore weren’t able to select one standout candidate.

“I do not even know due to all the theatrics of this Presidential election,” said a nurse manager from Indiana.


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