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California Nurses Association Blasts Bush for Veto on Children's Health

OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee today condemned President Bush's veto of the bill to refund the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

"Listening to the overheated rhetoric coming out of the White House, it seems that Karl Rove may be gone but his legacy lives on," said Zenei Cortez, RN, member of the CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents. She chastised Bush for his recent claims that legislators who passed the bill were trying to 'score political points'. "Tragically," said Cortez, "it sounds like it's the president, not Congress, who is playing politics with our children's health."

Cortez noted a recent Families USA report that found that nearly 90 million people, a third of all Americans under 65, were uninsured for substantial chunks of time the past two years.

"Even many of those with insurance are drowning in red ink and medical debt, and they're all too often responding by rationing care for themselves and their families. These sobering statistics can have heartbreaking consequences. Uninsured children admitted to the hospital with injuries are twice as likely to die as kids with health coverage, and are 13 times less likely to have regular medical care," Cortez said.

She noted a March report in the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics that found that families with high-deductible health plans are far more likely to put off needed care, including immunizations and compliance with recommended treatment.

"Nurses are tired of seeing our patients left behind -- infants who can't get a healthy start because mom can't afford prenatal care; children who can't get immunizations and proper dental care because mom and dad can't afford it -- and it doesn't have to be this way."

Cortez noted that the U.S. trails many other industrialized nations in care for infants and children. According to World Health Organization data, among six comparable industrialized nations, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Great Britain, the U.S. ranks last in both neo-natal (up to four weeks) and infant (up to two years) mortality rates, and last in probability of dying under age 5.

"All five of the other countries have a system that guarantees healthcare to everyone, regardless of your ability to pay and whether or not you have insurance or a job," said Cortez.

A bill currently before Congress, HR 676, would establish such a national system for children and adults. "Until we can enact such genuine reform, probably not under this president, we ought to at least protect the most vulnerable in our society and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program now," Cortez said.

SOURCE California Nurses Association
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