There is finally real potential for health care reform. With the election of Barack Obama and now his appointment of former Senator Tom Daschle to head Health and Human Services and today’s announcement of Hilda Solis to head the Labor Dept, real reform may be on the way. I say may because I have been let down by politicians before but these three have all expressed a need for change for a long time and I have real hope for the first time that positive reform will happen.
Tom Daschle wrote a book a couple of years ago titled “Critical- what we can do about healthcare”, this book offers real solutions to many of the problems that make our current healthcare system inefficient and unfair to those under and uninsured in our country. The following link will take you to a description of the book and reviews by other prominent politicians and public officials. http://zedc3test.techprogress.org/issues/2008/02/critical.html
Hilda Solis named today as the nominee to head the US Labor Dept is a victory for workers, labor and the healthcare system. She is a strong advocate for organized labor and will be very effective in giving strength to the right to organize and pursue a voice for change and justice in the work place.
See her bio at the following links : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilda_Solis , http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/1208/121808cdpm1.htm?rss=getoday .
I believe that strong healthcare workers and specifically nurses that have protection of unions will be able to advocate for their patients safety. The current system and the weakness of the NLRB (National Labor relations board), allows for hospital corporations both private, public, for profit and not for profit to silence their nurses and providers from speaking out about unsafe staffing, unsafe practices and policies or lack of concern for issues related to safety. In today’s system if you blow the whistle or demand that safety issues are addressed you are labeled a troublemaker and terminated or forced out. A strong, pro employee labor dept and a health secretary interested in reform will strengthen the protections afforded healthcare workers and in my opinion make the system safer for us all.
Unions are not all about the wages and benefits. Like in California and Massachusetts, unions have pushed for real legislative reform and have succeeded in making their systems better. I am not implying that they are without flaw in those states but they through the pressures of the unions and their nurse members have achieved real legislative reforms, like staffing ratios, limits on work hours and mandatory overtime. These issues have been proven to have a real influence on outcomes and the safety of patients in the acute care system.
We have a long way to go but I am very optimistic that the team that will assume power on January 20th will serve the American people well and finally put our healthcare and labor system back on the right track to fairness, justice and safety.