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Nation's RNs on the Healthcare Summit: Insurance-Based Reform Will Fail, and Undermine Public Trust, Only Medicare for All Can Achieve Administration's Goals
Date:3/3/2009

WASHINGTON, March 3 /PRNewswire/ -- On the eve of President Obama's healthcare summit Thursday, the nation's largest organization of registered nurses said today that expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone is the most cost-effective and comprehensive approach to achieving the goals and principles outlined by the president in his recent address to Congress and budget proposal.

While welcoming President Obama's call for achieving "comprehensive" healthcare reform this year, "a laudable commitment and a huge departure from the dismal healthcare policies of the past eight years," the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee warned that most of proposals floating around Congress would default on the promise and principles set by the administration.

"And, they would almost certainly fail to contain the rising costs that put so many families in peril or to repair our broken healthcare system," said CNA/NNOC Co-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

"That's the reason the majority of the nation's nurses and doctors -- the very people who have the most daily interaction with our healthcare system and see its failures and tragedies up front, favor a single-payer approach, or expanding Medicare to all.

"To achieve the lasting and cost-effective reform the president seeks and most Americans desire, we must confront the source of the present crisis -- an insurance industry that has been steadily pricing people out of access to care, or bankrupting them if they attempt to use it," Jenkins said. "Insurance company practices drive skyrocketing costs, a problem that won't be solved by more technology, electronic medical records, or any other stopgap measures some propose."

Jenkins welcomed the principles outlined by the administration for reform, and the call for progressive tax changes to help finance them, but warned that any reform "premised on expanding an insurance-based system will likely fail, frustrate the public desire for a real solution to our healthcare crisis, and undermine the political capital the administration has earned for reform.

"Private insurance plans aren't universal because they exclude people based on pre-existing conditions or age or anyone else they think will be expensive to cover. They don't guarantee choice of physician or hospital, but limit you to their network of providers.

"The insurers won't assure affordability because they are constantly raising premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other fees to generate high revenues and profits. They can't guarantee safety and quality because they actively discourage the delivery of care or deny treatments, diagnoses, or referrals they don't want to pay for. And, they will never be fiscally responsible because there is no independent oversight, decisions are made in secret in closed boardrooms or CEO offices, and, their priority is profits, not care," Jenkins said.

"Medicare for all, however, does succeed in all eight areas. It removes the incentive for price gouging, and it takes control of our health away from the insurance companies, and puts it where it belongs, in the hands of patients, families, and their doctors and nurses," said Jenkins.

This reform, she added also promotes national recovery by creating 2.6 million new jobs, infusing $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and injecting $100 billion more in wages into the U.S. economy, according to a recent CNA/NNOC study.

HR 676, the U.S. National Health Care Act by Rep. John Conyers, is the plan that best meets the grand vision painted by our president. "We call on Congress and the administration to work with us to enact it," Jenkins said.

CNA/NNOC represents 85,000 RNs in all 50 states, and is a founding member of the newly formed United American Nurses-NNOC.


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SOURCE California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
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