Policy and Healthcare Advocacy
Assignment: Population Health Advocacy
Human trafficking, extreme poverty, preventable diseases, the opioid crisis and the lack of adequate low-income housing are a few current societal concerns worthy of social change. Nurses and healthcare leaders are in a good position to shape and influence health care policy.
Think of a cause you believe in strongly. Access the website of your elected officials either at the local, state, or federal level using the following link: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials/ or use the website of your choice. Explore some of the issues and committees your legislators are involved in and select at least one that interest you or align with your beliefs. You may also contact your legislator’s office and speak to his or her legislative assistant by calling the U.S. Capitol switchboard operator at (202) 224-3121 for the Senate and (202) 225-3121 for the House. Legislator assistants are very knowledgeable about the legislator’s agenda and can provide a wealth of information.
This assignment will be at least 1500 words or more. This week reflect on advocacy, collaborative partnerships with other health care practitioners and stakeholders, and the policy making process and write a paper that addresses the following:
- Describe the policy issue, policy problem of interest or a particular bill that your legislator has introduced
- Elaborate on why the policy matters and what you can possibly do to strengthen the policy?
- Briefly define the role you would play as an advocate for the healthcare consumer and healthcare professionals.
- Explain how the policy impacts the public at large or a particular population.
- What stakeholders would you collaborate with to promote the cause?
Length: 1500-2000 words in length
Structure: Include a title page and reference page in APA format. These do not count towards the minimal word amount for this assignment. Your essay must include an introduction and a conclusion.
References: Use the appropriate APA style in-text citations and references for all resources utilized to answer the questions. A minimum of two (2) scholarly sources are required for this assignment.
Format: Save your assignment as a Microsoft Word document (.doc or .docx).
Healthcare Access Disparity
Healthcare is an essential component of human life. Therefore, it is unfortunate when some people cannot access health services due to systemic inequities in diverse communities. The disparity occurs due to socio-cultural, economic, and political variations, such as income status, age, gender, sexual orientation, residency, and literacy levels. Furthermore, the inequity’s impact on the healthcare fraternity is universal. Nurses can advocate for systematic changes that ensure all people have equitable access to healthcare services and resources. In so doing, they will promote an entire community’s health and reduce its healthcare burden.
Healthcare access disparity rarely originates from within the system. Instead, it arises from broader societal issues where communities have diverse cultural, social, and economic backgrounds. For instance, some diseases such as diabetes and hypertension tend to affect people from certain ethnic/racial backgrounds more than others (Kei et al., 2017). If the healthcare policies in that diverse community do not provide additional attention to the affected group, there will be a remarkable difference in health status between the ethnicities. Similarly, if historical social constructs cause discrimination of certain races, sexes, or people with diverse sexual orientations, the healthcare infrastructure will have an equally discriminatory framework (Wasserman et al., 2019). Healthcare access disparity also arises from a combination of multiple factors. For example, people living in rural areas may have to wait longer than their urban counterparts to receive health attention for similar needs. Finally, low-income earners and those with low literacy levels lack the financial and educational resources to seek health services whenever they need them.
Legislators have been introducing laws and policies that mitigate healthcare access differences. For instance, New Jersey assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez sponsored a bill to expand healthcare benefits to cover uninsured children below nineteen. Hence, her legislative suggestion aimed at eliminating income and age-related disparities (A. B. 4387, 2020). While the bill could be significant, there are still many other causes of access variations requiring professional interventions. Hence, nurses must play their advocacy role to contribute to developing and implementing policies that will bridge the gap and make healthcare services available to all people.
Significance of Healthcare Access Disparity
Healthcare access disparity is an important issue since it affects a population’s overall health status. For instance, improving access to care allows a community to eradicate certain diseases systematically. If all people can receive timely treatment for an infection, the community will gradually reduce its expenditure on healthcare. Furthermore, it will ensure that an outbreak does not occur, causing hospitalizations and maybe even mortalities (Wasserman et al., 2019). Eliminating access inequity also improves health quality measures such as higher life expectancy, fewer hospitalizations, and quicker recovery from illnesses. Thus, the population does not have to deal with suboptimal health due to conditions such as drug abuse, poor perinatal care, and early onset of physical and mental frailty. Hence, the community is more productive since its members are often in good health.
Healthcare access disparity may also stem from variations in the quality of care for different populations. Therefore, eliminating inequality improves overall care experiences. The healthcare system ensures that practitioners meet the set quality and safety standards for all patients regardless of their socio-cultural and economic background. Thus, there are fewer cases of misdiagnosis, maltreatment, and other undesirable practitioner conduct.
Promoting health access equality offers more than health-specific solutions. For instance, it can improve general public health and a population’s status (Cohen & Marshall, 2017). Consider a scenario where some community members, due to inadequate healthcare services, engage in risky behavior, e.g., drug abuse and smoking. Providing them with equal access to healthcare will promote their health and that of the community since the impact of secondary smoking and drug-abuse-motivated violence will be minimal. Conversely, if left unattended, the healthcare access disparity will create healthcare and non-healthcare consequences for the affected individuals, their families, and random community members.
Addressing healthcare access disparity requires professional intervention. Nurses’ advocacy is a critical tool in ensuring that diverse communities have equitable access to healthcare services and resources. The advocacy process entails identifying the root of the inequity, exploring viable solutions, developing an appropriate solution, and implementing it (Nickitas et al., 2020). Therefore, the specific advocacy role depends on the cause and nature of the healthcare access disparity.
Nurses’ Advocacy Roles
Nursing advocacy serves both healthcare consumers and fellow professionals. Promoting healthcare access equality would require advocacy interventions for both groups. First, one would attend to the population’s needs through patient education. Here, the nurse would identify the causes of disparities and develop relevant educational programs. The advocacy approach would be appropriate for inequity arising from low income and insufficient health literacy. Low-income earners generally cannot access health promotion information due to their limited interaction with healthcare providers (Nickitas et al., 2020). Similarly, some demographic groups (e.g., teenagers) lack a reliable source of accurate health information. Therefore, the educational intervention would avail healthcare knowledge and resources to the disadvantaged groups, enhancing their access. Suppose that a community engages in unhealthy health practices, such as poor nutrition or inadequate exercise. The nurses’ advocacy job would entail determining why they do not have better health habits, assessing their access to healthcare information, and exploring any socio-cultural considerations. The nurses would then engage the community in an educational program to inform them of their healthcare patterns and empower them to improve their health. A similar advocacy intervention to promote sexual and reproductive health to school-going teenagers would also enhance their access to reliable and accurate healthcare information, resulting in better health choices and actions. Thus, nurses can advocate for healthcare consumers through educational interventions.