NEW YORK NURSE: June 2009
by Karen A. Ballard, MA, RN, President-Elect
“Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” are coming. For the nation, legislators, the healthcare industry, and nurses, this summer may prove more “crazy,” if not “revolutionary,” in its impact upon health care and our environment.
Soon two important bills will be debated and enacted by Congress – and probably signed into law. Neither will be perfect, but they will radically change the healthcare delivery system and the quality of our environment.
The 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is hopelessly outdated. The act “grandfathered in” more than 62,000 chemicals, considering them “safe.” This means the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must prove these chemicals are unsafe before they can be removed from market. Of the 80,000 chemicals used in household products, only 200 have ever been tested. In the U.S., infants are born with over 250 chemicals in their cord blood, some of which are potential carcinogens or neurotoxins.
Under the Kid-Safe Chemical Act (KSCA), manufactured chemicals found in human cord blood, food, and drinking water will be presumed to be unsafe. If the industry cannot provide health studies showing a chemical is safe, the EPA will ban the chemical and require biomonitoring for its effect on health. The resulting information will be made public through a central database.
Become a KSCA supporter! Sign onto a declaration of support at kidsafechemicals.com and urge your Congress members to protect the nation’s air, water, food and children.
Access to affordable, quality health care for all is a human right, a matter of social justice. New York nurses are leaders in urging the government to forge healthcare reform legislation – sooner, rather than later! Unfortunately, what will be included in healthcare reform is becoming a battleground.
NYSNA is a long-time supporter of universal health care with a single payer reimbursement methodology. We support the National Health Insurance Act (HR.676), the single payer option before Congress, which has become the focus of much debate. There is grave concern that the opponents of healthcare reform will use the single payer issue to divide the supporters of reform and defeat any reform measure. Now is the time for unity, not divisiveness!
If single payer cannot be achieved, its supporters may need to get behind a public plan option as an alternative. Anyone who has worked on legislation understands the need to perfect all possible alternatives, so that whatever is achieved in the end will be the best that could be negotiated.
In the coming months, we must clarify with the proponents of a public plan option what can be, should be, and must be in such an alternative. For example, one requirement could be that everyone automatically qualifies for the public plan option with the choice of “opting out” for private insurance.
Become a healthcare reform nurse activist! Communicate with legislators and use the nurses’ toolkit available at nysna.org.
So, forget those lazy, hazy summer days and spend the summer changing our nation!