Access to affordable quality healthcare, particularly in our medically underserved communities, is a major hurdle we have to overcome as part of comprehensive healthcare reform. That’s why yesterday my colleague Congressman Lee Terry (NE-02) and I introduced legislation aimed at improving access to quality healthcare and reducing health disparities. Our bill, the Nurse-Managed Health Clinic Investment Act of 2009 would support Nurse-Managed Health Clinics (NMHCs) in providing comprehensive and accessible primary healthcare and wellness services to vulnerable populations in America’s medically underserved communities.

Nurse-Managed Health Clinics (NMHCs) are nurse-practice arrangements, managed by advanced practice nurses, that provide primary care or wellness services to underserved or vulnerable populations and are associated with a school, college, university, or department of nursing, federally qualified health center, or an independent nonprofit health or social services agency. Supporting the work of these Nurse-Managed Health Clinics helps the larger health reform effort in two key ways: first it increases access to vital primary healthcare and wellness services for vulnerable populations, helping to reduce the health disparities they too often experience. Second, these clinics provide invaluable learning opportunities for nursing students and other health professionals, ensuring that the next generation of healthcare professionals have “real world” training and a commitment to providing care to all populations and communities.

Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on May 20, 2009. I hope this legislation moves quickly through the legislative process so we can continue to improve access to quality healthcare.