The Measure of a Man

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Single Payer Now

Fast Facts about Single Payer

by Suzanne Cowan — last modified 2008-06-17 10:24 PM
The June 19 rally is in support of Single Payer health insurance, as opposed to a system run for profit by private insurance companies. But what is Single Payer?
Did you know?
The US spends more that twice as much per person for healthcare as any other nation, yet
One sixth of Americans have no health insurance.
One half of all bankruptcies are caused by healthcare bills.
Three quarters of those people had health insurance.
Despite this spending, the World Health Organization ranks the US 37th in overall health, the worst among industrial countries.
The US is the only industrial country that does not have a plan that provides health care for everybody.
In the US, there are currently more than 1200 separate for-profit insurance plans. The result is that, instead of paying for health care, about 30 cents of every health care dollar pay for:
Administrative costs such as billing
Marketing and advertising
Risk evaluation (allows insurance companies to provide insurance to the healthy and refuse coverage to those with "pre-existing conditions")
Denial management (the search for excuses to delay, deny or renege on payment for health care)
The June 19th rally supports California Senate Bill 840 (SB 840) and federal House Resolution 676 (HR 676). Both bills would establish a single-payer system of universal health care that eliminates insurance companies as middlemen.
Under a single-payer system in California or nationally, we would spend less on healthcare than we do now, and with far better results. Specifically, a single-payer system would:
Eliminate all current premiums, deductibles and co-payments. Instead, employers, employees and individuals would pay an annual tax that would be combined in one fund with monies from existing government programs. This fund would be the sole payer of all medical claims.
Immediately save billions of dollars by eliminating the excessive costs that insurance companies now spend for administration, lobbying, marketing, risk management, denial management, CEO salaries and profits.
Use the bulk purchasing power to reduce the cost of pharmaceuticals and durable medical equipment.
Increase efficiency and stabilize the growth in health care spending by linking spending increases to state/national GDP and relevant demographic indicators.
Allow the vast majority of people to pay less than they do now for medical care, while receiving far more comprehensive coverage.
Both SB 840 and HR 676 specifically permit free choice of health care providers, both public and private. Current for-profit insurance plans restrict choice to "in-plan" providers,
Many federal and state studies since l990 have concluded that a single-payer system is the only model that is truly efficient, equitable and sustainable. It spreads risk, pools funds, and provides all residents access to medical care.

Support single payer bill HR 676 by writing your representative and letting them know that you want justice in health care and a single payer system. You will find links at the bottom of this blog to find your Representatives e-mail and physical address. To get more information on the model for this bill visit

National Single Payer Bill
HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act, was introduced by Representative John Conyers, Jr. The bill has 90 cosponsors. HR 676 closely mirrors California’s SB 840.

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My Story

My Story

I have been a nurse for just over ten years. I earned my degree with the support of my wife and financial assistance for the GI bill. I was drawn to the profession of nursing after a brief exposure to an advanced course in field triage while serving in the army. I find the human body fascinating and am always learning. I also was attracted to the profession for all the usual reasons that bring people to the profession of nursing. I enjoy the reward of giving to my fellow man.

I believe that health care and the advocacy of safe care is the foundation of nursing that was started by our founders like Florence Nightingale. Our practice act calls for our profession to advocate for our patients and against practices that puts their safety in jeopardy.

The healthcare industry has for the last twenty plus years constructed an environment to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety and our profession. We as nurses have stood by fairly quit and allowed for this to happen.

Recently, I and others voiced concerns related to patient safety and working conditions at Summit Hospital a hospital owned by Healthcare Corporation of America. Our issues included the working of nurse with approximately six month of experience for more than twenty four hours straight. This particular nurse did volunteer to work these hours but in my opinion should not have been ask to do so. She is a great nurse for her limited experience but put her license and the safety of her patients at risk that night. The manager of the unit failed her and the patients in her charge. Study after study has shown that the error rate goes off the chart after twelve hours. I and fifteen other nurses also expressed to management our concerns over the floating policies that were sending unqualified nurses to our unit. We noted several instances were these nurse made errors that put the patient in potential jeopardy. We also expressed our concerns over ratios of 3 to 1 becoming the norm in the unit when 2 to 1 is considered the norm in intensive care across most of the country.

We submitted these concerns in writing and signed by sixteen nurses from our unit. Management responded by holding meetings with a group of employees that they chose and their representatives which included the director of HR, our unit manager and the director of nursing. The meetings at their start gave us some hope that our issues might be taken seriously and dealt with. It was soon apparent that would not be the case and these meetings quickly moved away from our issues to their issues. They would agree that their were problems but would not put any solutions into writing, stating that they needed to be able to remain flexible and made statements like we will try instead of we will.

At around this same time I was informed of an organization called the NNOC or National Nurses Organizing Committee, that was holding meetings in the Nashville area to organize nurses to advocate for patients and against many of the problems that I expressed above. I met with their organizer and felt that their movement was something that I could support. I became a member of the NNOC and began attending meetings on a regular basis. I also began placing invitations to attend meetings in the break room of my unit and speaking with interested coworkers, while on break, about the need to organize and advocate for our patients and our profession.

After a short period of time I was ask by my manager about my involvement with the NNOC and my desire to form a union at Summit Hospital. I did not deny my association and did not hide my opinion as to why I felt that organizing was needed. I also informed them that I had the right as outlined in the National Labor Relation Act. The nursing staff at Summit was then subjected to mandatory anti union meetings and letter sent to our homes and to our email accounts at work. I was required to attend meetings with the hospital attorney and informed that because I was a charge nurse I was considered management and could not associate with the NNOC. I contested that I was a member of management but submitted to their demands to end my association with the NNOC. I never attended another meeting or recruited for the cause after that meeting. I did however continue to operate a blog, , that advocated for reform of the healthcare system and employee rights to organize. I did not use computers at work for this endeavor and did not use my real name on the blog or use any other names that would tell a reader where I worked or who I worked for.

I was ultimately terminated from Summit Medical Center on June 11th, 2008 for what I was told was the operation of a blog. I was given no specifics of what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite my asking. I appealed my termination through the hospitals employment dispute resolution process, attempting to get clarification as to what about my blog was cause for my termination. The peer panel dispute process was a sham. The panel as outlined by the hospitals policy was to be made up of my peers, who were “not familiar with the problem or have a close relationship with any of the parties involved”. The panel was anything but and was made up of persons who had expressed an open hostility to my rights to organize and to freely associate with the NNOC in the past. Two of the panel members were charge nurses from the ER also under the supervision of my manager, who had terminated me. These two persons were also at the meeting with the hospitals attorney and expressed anti union sentiment. Another panel member was a person who was well aware of my personal views related to unions and the right to organize and had been present at private settings outside the hospital were I had expressed my opinions related to the issues that started all this. This puts three of the five panel members in clear violation of the policy. I then was refused the right to seek any clarification as to what about the blog was grounds for my termination despite that being the stated reason for the panel. I was not given the right to hear the reasons as stated by my manager and the director of HR.

I am writing this because I believe that my fundamental right to due process has been violated. This is a right to work state and right or wrong that gives Summit the right to do as the please when it comes to hiring and firing of employees but most people believe and Summit attempts to mislead their employees that they are fair and just when it comes to matters of employee issues.

If Summit is allowed to get away with this and is not challenged then patients are at risk. Health care workers need to be free to advocate for safety for their patients and if they are scared into submission then patients will suffer.

Join me in fighting for our rights to free association and to advocate for our patients as our practice act requires. Support the employee free choice act, and send a message to Summit and other corporate bullies that feel you are entitled to the rights they give you and nothing more.
Also visit sited like Leap for Safety and support petitions to mandate stronger legislation that will ensure a safer environment. Visit to get involved.

I truly believe that our healthcare system is in dire trouble and we as nurses have a responsibility to get involved. Please join the fight. Your family may one day depend on what we do today.

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