July 30th marks the 50-year anniversary of the signing into law, by President Lyndon Johnson the Medicare and Medicaid legislation; legislation which profoundly opened up health care access to millions of Americans. Before we celebrate too loudly about this singular achievement which has improved the lives of our citizens both young and old, let’s remember that there are still many Americans left without adequate access to health care.
President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in the Rose Garden (Getty Images)
With the Supreme Court ruling last week, the President announced definitively that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is here to stay and advised that now is the time to get back to work. One aspect of “getting back to work” is ensuring that our health care system functions at its highest level as the ACA continues to do its job of providing access to care for millions of once uninsured and underinsured Americans. A critical hallmark of a functioning modern health care system is the reliable delivery of professional nursing care. What history shows is that the perplexing and enduring problem of nurse shortages have frequently left the nation’s health care system compromised.