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AUSTIN, TEXAS — The American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP), the largest association of nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties, today called for policymakers and health systems to take swift action to address the outsized impact COVID-19 is having on minority communities. For instance, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and data released by individual states, African Americans with COVID-19 are more frequently hospitalized and are dying at higher rates. In New York City, data found Hispanics had the highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus.
“Sadly, the health disparities making the news today aren’t new or specific to COVID-19. NPs have been advocating for decades for changes to help individuals and communities facing added health challenges due to systemic issues with economic insecurity, lack of health care access and the marginalization of minority and underrepresented populations. NPs see every day the impact that health disparities have on our patients. The CDC’s recent COVID-19 race and ethnicity data are proof positive that policymakers, health systems and providers must work together — and now — to stop COVID-19’s disproportional impact on communities of color,” said AANP President Sophia L.Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP, FNAP, FAANP. “By adopting our recommendations, we can save lives and dramatically reduce the incidence of chronic conditions.”
AANP calls on federal and state policymakers, health systems and health care providers to:
Expand health care access across America’s Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).
Some 77 million Americans live in communities without adequate access to primary health care, and nearly 80% of rural America is designated as medically underserved. Governors should temporarily lift regulatory barriers in all 50 states and allow NPs to work to the top of their profession to combat COVID-19. Additionally, states without full practice authority should permanently remove barriers so that NPs can meet the needs of patients living in HPSAs for years to come — not only during the pandemic.
Provide coverage for services that address underlying health conditions, including nutrition, mental health care and safe options for physical activity.
Chronic disease makes patients more susceptible to the worst impacts of COVID-19, and we must address the root causes of these conditions. Access to care will help ensure patients’ chronic conditions are monitored and appropriately tracked by a health care professional.
Establish an administration task force to coordinate our nation’s response to health disparities.
The short-term objective of this effort should be to improve COVID-19 outcomes among impacted minority groups. Long-term, the task force should aim to address the systemic causes of health inequities.
Ensure accurate and transparent reporting of COVID-19 socioeconomic, racial and ethnic demographic data at the national and state levels.
It’s imperative that we have accurate and timely access to demographic data to understand the extent to which African Americans, Hispanics and other impacted communities can access COVID-19 testing and to what degree they experience increased rates of COVID-19 infection and death.
“The time for waiting is over. We need immediate solutions to the disparities ravaging the health of at-risk populations,” said Thomas, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC, PPCNP, FNAP, FAANP.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) is the largest professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of the more than 290,000 licensed NPs in the U.S. AANP provides legislative leadership at the local, state and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NPs’ patients and other health care consumers. As The Voice of the Nurse Practitioner®, AANP represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive, patient-centered health care. To locate a nurse practitioner in your community, go to npfinder.com. For more information about NPs, visit aanp.org. For COVID-19 information from AANP, visit https://www.aanp.org/COVID19.