Nurses Welcome Obama's Call for Comprehensive Health Reform But Only One Reform, Medicare for All, Will Solve Crisis/Cut Costs

For Immediate Release

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Charles Idelson, 415-559-8991, 510-273-2246 or Shum Preston, 510-273-2276

Nurses Welcome Obama's Call for Comprehensive Health Reform But Only One Reform, Medicare for All, Will Solve Crisis/Cut Costs

SAN FRANCISCO - The nation's largest organization of registered nurses today praised President Obama's call for "comprehensive" healthcare reform in his speech to Congress Tuesday night, but emphasized that only genuine reform, as in expanding Medicare to cover everyone, will actually solve the crisis -- and rein in the skyrocketing costs that the president noted are bankrupting Americans and costing jobs.

"After the past dismal eight years, it could not be more gratifying to hear a President emphasize the need for comprehensive action on healthcare, and recognize the growing crisis felt by American families," said Malinda Markowitz, RN, co-president of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee.

"But we cannot repair our broken and dysfunctional system, and bring our families the health and financial security they need without taking on the insurance giants which created and perpetuate the crisis by pricing people out of access to care, or bankrupting them if they attempt to use it."

"Only one reform, Medicare for all, effectively controls costs at the source, by eliminating the stranglehold of the insurance giants and the price gouging we see in ever-rising premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and other daily costs that have caused so much harm to so many.

"Unfortunately, far too many in Washington continue to seek methods that merely extend the stranglehold of private insurers," Markowitz said.

A new report just out today from the Institute of Medicine reaffirms the problem, Markowitz noted. Average premiums for family coverage have soared by 119 percent the past decade - three and a half times the growth of family incomes.

The IOM noted that many companies are dumping full-time positions, and replacing them with part-time, contract, and temporary jobs that don't offer health benefits. Also, more and more areas around the country are experiencing severe problems with limited hospital access to emergency care and in-patient bed capacity as the result of the growing number of uninsured and underinsured Americans.

The solution is a single-payer system, as in expanding and upgrading Medicare, our more effective, comprehensive existing medical program, to cover everyone. A Medicare-for-all bill, HR 676, has been recently reintroduced in the House.

A CNA/NNOC research study issued last month also noted that Medicare for all would also promote economic recovery by creating 2.6 million new jobs, infuse $317 billion in new business and public revenues, and inject another $100 billion in wages into the U.S. economy, according to the study by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy (IHSP), research arm of CNA/NNOC. The study may be viewed at www.CalNurses.org.

While 30 percent of the new jobs would be in health and social services, the ripple effect of job creation goes throughout the economy, with gains in retail trade, accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and administrative services, as well as healthcare.

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National Nurses United, with close to 185,000 members in every state, is the largest union and professional association of registered nurses in US history.

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