University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing alumna Cindy Cooke, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, represented the nurse practitioner profession at the White House on Dec. 13, 2016, for the bill signing ceremony of the 21st Century Cures Act, a $6.3 billion package that constitutes the country’s largest piece of health care legislation since the Affordable Care Act, and while largely focused on medical research, also includes $1 billion for states to supplement opioid abuse prevention and treatment activities.
“In light of the significant work AANP has done in regard to the opioid crisis, it was an honor to attend this historic event and represent all nurse practitioners (NPs) and their patients,” Cooke, current president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), said. “Patients are dying in huge numbers across the nation from opioid overdoses -- many because of a lack of access to life-saving, medically assisted therapies when it is appropriate.
“AANP worked with multiple stakeholders in support of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) which was signed into law in July 2016. These efforts have gone on for quite some time and will increase the number of providers with DEA Category X authority to treat patients with opioid addictions.”
“There are currently 222,000 NPs practicing in the U.S. who see patients of all walks of life, including those struggling with addiction issues,” Cooke said. “With the passage of the CARA legislation last summer, NPs were authorized to prescribe lifesaving medication assisted therapy treatments to these patients. AANP is working to make certain all necessary requirements for this authorization are available to our members to ensure their patients have access to this type of care.”
The historical significance of The White House event registered with Cooke as well -- it was the last bill signing ceremony of President Barack Obama’s administration.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” Cooke said.
Cooke earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree from the UAB School of Nursing in 2013.