Nurses and working people across the country made our voices heard to stop House Republicans from ripping healthcare from 24 million Americans and ending Medicaid as we know it. The victory means Tyler Thomas, a Rhode Island security guard who relies on Medicaid to cover his $25,000 per month treatments for Crohn’s disease, can stay well and go to work.
But the threat to dismantle our healthcare system remains. Republican leaders in Congress still want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and unravel the Medicaid safety net for the seniors, people with disabilities and children who need care the most.
Before the House healthcare repeal bill failed to win enough support--Theresa Brown, registered nurse and New York Times columnist wrote: “People without insurance and little money are still going to need care, some of it very expensive. To deny these people care by restricting their access at the source--ambulances, emergency departments, hospitals--would reflect equity in a you-get-what-you-pay-for model. But the human cost of limiting healthcare to those who can pay would be higher than any of us should be willing to bear.”
Rather than trying to tear the healthcare system apart, our elected officials should work together to fix what is broken. As we’ve done before to pass, promote and protect the healthcare law, SEIU nurses will continue to stand with concerned patients, our families and neighbors to advocate for better patient outcomes, protect Medicaid and make high quality healthcare affordable to all.
The health of our patients, our families and our communities depends on us.
Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
“Before the ACA, Jackson Memorial’s emergency room was consistently flooded with individuals who lacked healthcare coverage and relied on emergency medicine for primary care. Patients were unable to afford the cost of a routine doctor’s visit when they were sick, much less get preventive care to keep chronic illnesses at bay. I fear what will happen if Congress guts Medicaid, and leaves 4.3 million Floridians--seniors, children and people with disabilities--who rely on Medicaid with nothing for their healthcare.” --Vicki Gonzalez, RN, a member of Local 1991
“The U.S. Supreme Court plays a vital role when it hears cases about our healthcare laws and environmental protections. We can't allow it to be used for partisan purposes to decide who has the right to affordable healthcare.” --Maribel Castillon, RN, a public health nurse and member of SEIU Local 721
“Nurses take pride in our jobs--caring for people who need our help. Like so many other people in Iowa and nationwide, we all work hard and are just trying to hang on to a good job. And when injustices occur, I expect the courts to call that out and right the wrongs; it’s a fundamental part of our values.” --Cathy Glasson, RN, president of SEIU Local 199
SEIU nurses in San Francisco, Calif. joined other SEIU members to file an amicus brief in federal court that details how communities would be hurt by President Trump’s Executive Order to withhold federal funding from cities, counties and states that have welcoming policies toward immigrants.
Sasha Cuttler, a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital, shared his first-hand experience and background in infectious disease, cautioning the the fear instilled by the Executive Order could deter people from seeking care.
“Public health has no borders and making people afraid to accept care is a recipe for epidemic disease. That’s an inevitable consequence.” --Sasha Cuttler, RN, member of SEIU Local 1021
Gayle Batiste, RN and president of SEIU Local 121, was honored as “Woman of the Year” for the 45th Assembly District in California for all she does for patients, her nurse colleagues, women and Californians in need. Each year, in celebration of the contributions to society made by remarkable women throughout the state, a woman from each legislative district is invited to the state Capitol to be honored for her accomplishments.
In a victory for working families across the nation, House Republicans pulled their disastrous healthcare repeal bill from consideration, after it became clear they did not have the votes to pass it. Their healthcare bill would have gutted Medicaid, raised insurance costs for working people, removed coverage of essential health benefits such as mammograms, and endangered long term care services for millions of seniors and people with disabilities.
SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry said, “Today’s failed vote made clear that working families will not stand by while 24 million people lose their healthcare; seniors, people with disabilities and children are thrown off Medicaid; and tens of thousands of healthcare jobs are lost. With one loud voice, America’s working families have said repeal is dead and it’s time for Congress and the Administration to stop playing games and start focusing on what working people need: good jobs that pay wages on which we can provide for our families, the opportunity to have a voice on the job in a union, and economy and democracy that includes all of us and an America where all work is valued and every community can thrive.
In health bill’s defeat, Medicaid comes of age, New York Times, March 28, 2017
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is back on agenda, Republicans say, New York Times, March 28, 2017
SEIU nurses in California sponsor whistleblower protection legislation
SEIU Local 121RN and other SEIU nurses in California are advocating for a bill that would protect patient safety by prohibiting an employer from retaliating against a nurse who speaks up or refuses to accept an assignment which violates legally mandated nurse staffing ratios. Gayle Batiste, president of SEIU Local 121 RN, addressed the importance of AB1102 when it was introduced in February, “This legislation will take nurses out of the position of having to choose between the safety of patients and losing their job if they refuse an assignment that violates California law.”
Threats to nursing and health workforce education
In his FY2018 budget proposal, America First--A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again, President Trump recommends that health professions and nursing workforce programs be cut by $403 million and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) be cut by $5.8 billion (20 percent). Although it is unclear how it would be affected, the National Institute for Nursing Research falls under the NIH budget.
Little detail about the proposal is provided, but the budget document does note:
There is a “lack evidence that they significantly improve the nation’s health workforce. The budget continues to fund health workforce activities that provide scholarships and loan repayments in exchange for service in areas of the United States where there is a shortage of health professionals.”
The nurses who lost their jobs thanks to Trump’s new Labor secretary nominee. Think Progress, Feb. 23, 2017 President Trump’s nominee to join his corporate Cabinet as secretary of Labor--leading the agency that should focus on protecting the rights of working Americans--has a history of overlooking precedent to rule against workers. After President George W. Bush appointed Alexander Acosta to the National Labor Relations Board, Acosta wrote an opinion that cost 23 nurses their jobs after they delayed the start of their planned strike by a few hours to ensure patients’ needs would be met.
“Polluter First” Budget Will Harm Our Health, NRDC Blog, March 17, 2017 This blog by underscores why protecting our climate is a critical investment in the health of our country now and for future generations. It cites a recently released report by the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health that features stories from practicing physicians detailing climate-related health risks, including health crises following last year’s flooding in Louisiana, a rise in tick-borne illnesses, and the dangers of heat waves.
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