Dear Members of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners:
As leaders in health care, you are among the most trusted sources of information about health care—not just to patients, but to the public as well. To that end, I am writing to ask that over the next few weeks you share important information with your patients, family members and others in your community about the opportunity to obtain affordable, quality health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) before the February 15, 2015, deadline.
For most people, access to health care services is predicated on access to health insurance. While over the past year we have seen a 26 percent drop in the number of uninsured in the nation—a remarkable achievement for each of those individuals and families—there are 32 million Americans without this security. Right now, however, they can obtain affordable coverage through HealthCare.gov.
I applaud the American Association of Nurse Practitioners for maintaining a webpage dedicated to Health Insurance Marketplace information and resources. You'll also find key information and links to materials relevant to nurse practitioners listed below, which I encourage you to share broadly. Additional resources for clinicians can be found at marketplace.cms.gov.
Research findings indicate a clear relationship between health insurance coverage and health outcomes. From now through February 15, 2015, please take this opportunity to help ensure that those in your clinical settings and throughout your communities know about the availability of health insurance and why it's so important to have it.
Additionally, to ensure patients have access to health care services, particularly in underserved areas, the Health Resources and Services Administration is also supporting two programs: the NHSC Loan Repayment Program, which is supported through funding made available in the Affordable Care Act, and the NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program. These two programs are currently accepting applications from nurse practitioners interested in receiving help paying for the cost of education in exchange for practicing in underserved areas. I invite you to explore these opportunities.
Nurses have a critical role in strengthening the health of the nation. This is an opportunity for all of us, regardless of where we live or where we work, to help achieve that aim by helping others secure affordable, quality health insurance and access health care services. Thank you for your contribution to improving the health of individuals and families across the country.
Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, FAAN
Administrator, Health Resources and Services Administration
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services