NEW YORK NURSE: October/November 2008
by Joely Johnson
More than two million New Yorkers are uninsured and many others have inadequate health coverage, which often leads to inadequate care. Grass-roots efforts around New York are spreading the word and growing support for improving healthcare in the state – and the country.
Healthcare professionals and patients alike are realizing that private, for-profit health insurance is a core problem that increases healthcare costs but does nothing to improve outcomes. The Nurses Association is actively involved in promoting the concept that high-quality, comprehensive healthcare is a right and not a privilege.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, nurses, doctors, consumers, and community activists came together in Albany to create a new statewide coalition to push for adoption of a single-payer healthcare system. The Single Payer NY group will help coordinate grassroots education and outreach activities in support of universal health care throughout the state. The coalition already has coordinators in two dozen counties.
Sponsors of Single Payer NY include NYSNA, Hunger Action Network of New York State, Health Care-NOW, Physicians for a National Health Program, New York Statewide Senior Action, and many other local and state groups representing thousands of members.
On Monday, Sept. 15, healthcare reform supporters gathered in Buffalo, at the city campus of Erie County Community College. A panel of experts included Gaen Hooley, NYSNA labor relations representative; Rudy Mueller, physician and author of As Sick as it Gets; and Donna Smith, a disappointed healthcare consumer who was featured in Michael Moore’s healthcare system documentary, “Sicko.”
The discussion centered on Health Resolution 676, a bill introduced to the United States Congress in 2005 by Representative John Conyers and currently co-sponsored by more than 90 other legislators including New York Congressional Representatives Engel, Hinchey, Maloney, McNulty, Nader, Owens, Rangel, Serrano, Towns, Weiner, and Velazquez.
H.R. 676, often referred to as “Medicare for all,” outlines a plan that would provide all Americans with free health coverage, including primary and preventive care, prescription medications, emergency care, and mental health services. The bill is currently stalled and still awaiting approval. “The goal of the panel was to make the public aware of the need for healthcare reform and let them know that H.R. 676 is one way to get there,” said Hooley.
On Wednesday, Oct. 15, NYSNA members Mary J. Finnin and Pat Roberts attended a lunch discussion titled, “America’s Healthcare System on Life Support: How Should the Presidential Candidates Respond?” The afternoon talk was timed to precede the third and final Presidential debate that took place that evening. Held at the Long Island Marriott Hotel in Uniondale, the event was sponsored by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the Creative Coalition, a group of activist entertainers including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mathew Modine, and Giancarlo Esposito. The American Nurses Association was a co-sponsor.