Health Policy Topics

Health care policy and issues can affect providers and the patients they serve at different levels and in many different ways, some critical. Staying on top of current health care concerns and legislative issues will help you become what this country desperately needs–informed, caring and socially conscious health care professionals who understand the issues and are willing to advocate for their patients.

With your help, we can improve health care for all Americans…not just those who can afford it.

To help you stay informed, we have listed websites that address health care policy topics. Please keep in mind that these are only some of the websites addressing some of the current issues. We encourage you to continue researching these and other health care-related topics on your own.

Quick Links

For links to resources on health issues related to diversity, health disparities and cultural competence, see Diversity Matters.

To take action on these or other health care issues, see the “Service and Volunteerism” section of Humanism in Health Care.

More Information

The Aging of America

Recent research indicates that between now and the year 2030, the number of people who are 55 or older in the United States will almost double while the number of those 65 and older will more than double. In the near future, there will be nearly 178 million older Americans, or over 41% of our total population.

What does this mean, in terms of the health professions? Now and over the next few decades, there will be a high demand for health professionals who are skilled in geriatric care.

Global Health

We live in a global community, where news and disease can span the globe in hours or even moments. Our actions and choices can have far-reaching consequences for our own and others’ health. Whether it is a tsunami or bioterrorism, greenhouse gases or avian flu, global health has the potential to affect every one of us.

Health Workforce Shortages

A “perfect storm” of unmet health care needs is fast approaching: the number of patients with age-related health needs is exploding, just as a large cohort of health professionals is retiring. There simply aren’t enough health professions students “in the pipeline” to meet the oncoming demand for services. The result? An impending health workforce shortage of unprecedented proportions.

Need for Nurses: The United States has a serious shortage of practicing nurses, but recruiting more nursing students is only part of the solution. Additional teachers are needed to train these students. Blowing Open the Bottleneck, a report commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Center to Champion Nursing in America and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, outlines some of the solutions underway to address nursing faculty shortages across the nation.

On the Frontline: The “frontline health care workforce”—nurses, assistants, technicians and other direct care providers—is the foundation for a quality health care delivery system, according to Defining the Frontline Workforce , a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to the report, demand for frontline workers is expected to increase 50% over the next five years, but there are not enough students in the pipeline to fill these jobs.

Uninsured / Medically Underserved

According to the Census Bureau, 48 million Americans were uninsured as of 2012. The number of uninsured children in 2012 was 6.6 million.

Even if they are fortunate enough to have health insurance, many Americans live in medically underserved areas – that is, communities with few or no health care facilities or clinicians.

One of the organizations working to place health care providers in medically underserved areas is the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). More than 45,000 primary care medical, dental and mental and behavioral health professionals have served in the National Health Service Corps since its inception. Watch providers at work talking about what they do and the benefits to them and their patients.

The NHSC supports providers by awarding scholarships and loan repayment while the providers in turn commit to serving for at least two years at an NHSC-approved site located in a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA).

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