This year is off to a busy start. We are on the front lines educating colleagues and patients about the healthcare law and providing information about Open Enrollment, which ends Feb. 15.
SEIU nurses are also sharing lessons learned to protect the health and safety of their communities. They are taking action to defend the healthcare law in Washington, D.C., against the latest attacks in Congress and preparing for the next Supreme Court fight.
In this issue, we have some great information to highlight including:
Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
A group of healthcare professionals and SEIU members submitted an amicus brief in King v. Burwell on Jan. 28 to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of working families throughout America. The case under consideration challenges the power of the Internal Revenue Service to issue tax credits to millions of working Americans who enroll in private health insurance through the federal healthcare exchange. The tax credits have meant that millions of working women and men in approximately 36 states have gained affordable, quality healthcare under the law and can now see a doctor, afford life-saving prescription drugs, and be free of the fear of medical bankruptcy.
"As a post-partum nurse, I know firsthand that the tax credits the law provides are important to ensuring the health of mothers and their babies," said Marilyn Ralat Albernas, RN, of 1199UHE in Miami. "We should be looking for ways to expand affordable access to good prenatal care, not putting this care at risk."
SEIU RNs Michelle Boyle of SEIU Healthcare PA and Robert Blair of SEIU 1199UHE Florida also joined the amicus brief.
The U.S. Ebola cases revealed the courage of healthcare workers and how much more we must do to prepare for major outbreaks
Sharyce Greene, a member of SEIU Healthcare PA and RN working in the Medical Intensive Care Unit of Allegheny General Hospital, shares lessons learned from the Ebola Crisis.
Time magazine recently named "the Ebola Fighters" as Persons of the Year. Nurses, doctors and leading infectious disease experts continue to give their all to fight and stop this terrible virus at the source in Africa. In Pennsylvania, nurses learned extremely valuable lessons about our state and our nation's readiness to fight infectious disease from last year's outbreak in the United States.
The handling of the first U.S. Ebola patient at Texas Health Presbyterian hospital, where two nurses caught the disease, set off alarm bells across the country. This was especially true for nurses on the front lines of care. Serious concerns were raised that clear protocols had not been in place and workers had not had the proper equipment or training to handle the situation. We knew then that we needed to be proactive at Allegheny General Hospital to prevent this from happening here.
Chris Barton, director of the SEIU Nurse Alliance Northwest, weighs in and provides the facts as misinformation continues to be disseminated about the healthcare law.
Members of Congress are resuming their anti-factual attacks on the Affordable Care Act so the SEIU Nurse Alliance is resuming our "Nurses Know the Truth" blog posts. Nurse leaders nationwide will weigh in with evidence-based facts and offer our own front-line experiences, too.
First up: shedding light on the truth about the new rule that just went into effect Jan. 1 requiring employers to provide healthcare coverage to anyone who works at least 30 hours a week or else pay a penalty. Republicans trying to undo that provision are spreading three dangerous mistruths. Click here to get the facts.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson [D-Texas] and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) reintroduced the National Nurse Act of 2015 in the 114th Congress. The National Nurse Act works to move preventive health forward by designating the acting chief nurse officer as the National Nurse for Public Health. This position would provide a publicly visible nurse leader who would function alongside the surgeon general and collaborate with healthcare leaders to address health disparities, set goals to improve the health of Americans, and raise the profile of the entire U.S. Public Health Service.
Chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and obesity pose the greatest threat to the health of Americans and our nation's economy. Nurses provide essential services for the prevention and management of these conditions, and this legislation is necessary to support further work needed to promote prevention, improve outcomes, and guide national, state and local efforts in addressing the nation's health. With approximately 3.1 million registered nurses, nursing represents the single largest component of the healthcare profession. Each day, every nurse is positioned to move the nation toward improved public health.
In the churning over the refusal of some parents to immunize their children against certain diseases, a venerable Latin phrase may prove useful: Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. It means, "After this, therefore because of this." In plainer language: Event B follows Event A, so B must be the direct result of A. It is a classic fallacy in logic.
It is also a trap into which many Americans have fallen. That is the consensus among healthcare professionals trying to contain recent spurts of infectious diseases they had believed were forever in the country's rearview mirror. They worry that too many people are not getting their children vaccinated, out of a conviction that inoculations are risky.
Some parents feel certain vaccines can lead to autism, if only because there have been instances when a child got a shot and then became autistic. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc. Making that connection between the two events, most health experts say, is as fallacious in the world of medicine as it is in the field of logic.
The current measles outbreak is raising questions as to whether physicians should take a stronger stance against parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.
"A family vacation to an amusement park--or a trip to the grocery store, a football game or school--should not result in children becoming sickened by an almost 100 percent preventable disease," said Dr. Errol Alden, executive director of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a statement released Friday. "We are fortunate to have an incredibly effective tool that can prevent our children from suffering. That is so rare in medicine."
King v. Burwell, the latest U.S. Supreme Court case attacking the Affordable Care Act, is largely perceived as a threat to people who purchased insurance through the law's health exchanges. Should the plaintiffs succeed, at least 8 million people with plans purchased through such an exchange are projected to become uninsured--many of whom have life-threatening conditions. In reality, however, King presents an even bigger threat to American lives. Should the Supreme Court embrace the plaintiffs' theory in King, up to 5 million children who had insurance long before Obamacare became law would also lose their insurance.
That's 13 million newly uninsured people, many of them children.
The problem arises from the specific words the King plaintiffs point to in the text of the Affordable Care Act to claim that much of the law should be defunded. These five words--"Exchange established by the State"--appear in a provision of the law governing tax credits intended to help people pay for insurance in the exchanges, but they also appear in another provision intended to shore up funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP, which predates Obamacare, and insures millions of children. Thus, should the Court accept the King plaintiffs' reading of the law, their decision is likely to have the perverse effect of rewriting a law that was intended to expand access to healthcare to instead deny healthcare to millions of children who already had it.
As newly empowered Republicans in Washington, D.C., are contemplating ways to unwind the president's healthcare law, another Republican governor with conservative credentials announced Tuesday morning he had reached a deal with the Obama administration to accept Medicaid expansion funding in his state.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former member of the U.S. House leadership who's viewed as a possible 2016 presidential candidate, announced he and the feds after months of negotiations agreed to a plan that will cover an estimated 350,000 low-income adult Hoosiers earning under 138 percent of the poverty level, or about $16,105 for an individual. It makes Indiana the 28th state (plus the District of Columbia) to opt into the voluntary coverage expansion.
Despite the fact Obamacare's major provisions went into effect at the beginning of 2014, about 30 million people remain uninsured in the United States. That's partly because some people are ineligible for coverage because of their immigration status. According to a new issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, it's also because a lot of Americans are going without insurance even though they're supposed to be eligible under the law.
According to Kaiser researchers who surveyed a representative sample of more than 10,000 adults, most of the uninsured people in the country have incomes that qualify them to receive financial assistance under Obamacare. They could either get subsidies to help them purchase private plans on the new state-level marketplaces, or they could enroll in public plans in their state's expanded Medicaid program.
All adults 65 years old and older should now receive the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13/Prevnar 13, Wyeth), in addition to the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23/Pneumovax, Merck), according to the 2015 adult immunization recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new clinical guideline, "Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Recommended Immunization Schedule for Adults Aged 19 Years or Older: United States, 2015," was published online Feb. 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine by David K. Kim, MD, from the CDC's Immunization Services Division, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Atlanta, and colleagues, on behalf of the ACIP. The recommendations are also published on the CDC's website.
Kung Flu Fighting, Why it Takes a Village to Effectively Combat Influenza
I'll be the first to admit I abhor being sick. Not the sniffling stuff we push to the back of our minds and power through a series of 12 hour shifts. I'm talking about the "stop-the-presses, no I'm not washing my hair or getting out of these clothes, stuffing three tissues up both nostrils," body aches and fever sickto-the-bone kind of illness.
That is the type of H3N2 influenza we have been seeing this year, and true to CDC statistics, my annual flu vaccine appeared to offer little if any protection. As a result, I am rotating OTC antipyretics and expectorants while venting about the frustrations I have in fighting flu. If you hate this post, you could insist I was feverish.
The Nurse Alliance Roundup is now online! Want to see past issues of the Nurse Alliance newsletter, beginning in 2013? Now you can.