The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

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

Nation's RNs on the Healthcare Summit: Insurance-Based Reform Will Fail

Insurance-Based Reform Will Fail, and Undermine Public Trust, Only Medicare for All Can Achieve Administration's Goals


On the eve of President Obama's healthcare summit Thursday,
the nation's largest organization of registered nurses said
today that expanding and updating Medicare to cover everyone is
the most cost-effective and comprehensive approach to achieving
the goals and principles outlined by the president in his recent
address to Congress and budget proposal.

While welcoming President Obama's call for achieving
"comprehensive" healthcare reform this year, "a laudable
commitment and a huge departure from the dismal healthcare
policies of the past eight years," the California Nurses
Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee warned that
most of proposals floating around Congress would default on the
promise and principles set by the administration.

"And, they would almost certainly fail to contain the rising
costs that put so many families in peril or to repair our broken
healthcare system," said CNA/NNOC Co-president Geri Jenkins, RN.

"That's the reason the majority of the nation's nurses and
doctors -- the very people who have the most daily interaction
with our healthcare system and see its failures and tragedies up
front, favor a single-payer approach, or expanding Medicare to

"To achieve the lasting and cost-effective reform the
president seeks and most Americans desire, we must confront the
source of the present crisis -- an insurance industry that has
been steadily pricing people out of access to care, or
bankrupting them if they attempt to use it," Jenkins said.
"Insurance company practices drive skyrocketing costs, a problem
that won't be solved by more technology, electronic medical
records, or any other stopgap measures some propose."

Jenkins welcomed the principles outlined by the
administration for reform, and the call for progressive tax
changes to help finance them, but warned that any reform
"premised on expanding an insurance-based system will likely
fail, frustrate the public desire for a real solution to our
healthcare crisis, and undermine the political capital the
administration has earned for reform."

"Private insurance plans aren't universal because they
exclude people based on pre-existing conditions or age or anyone
else they think will be expensive to cover. They don't guarantee
choice of physician or hospital, but limit you to their network
of providers.

"The insurers won't assure affordability because they are
constantly raising premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and other
fees to generate high revenues and profits. They can't guarantee
safety and quality because they actively discourage the delivery
of care or deny treatments, diagnoses, or referrals they don't
want to pay for. And, they will never be fiscally responsible
because there is no independent oversight, decisions are made in
secret in closed boardrooms or CEO offices, and, their priority
is profits, not care," Jenkins said.

"Medicare for all, however, does succeed in all eight areas.
It removes the incentive for price gouging, and it takes control
of our health away from the insurance companies, and puts it
where it belongs, in the hands of patients, families, and their
doctors and nurses," said Jenkins.

This reform, she added also promotes national recovery by
creating 2.6 million new jobs, infusing $317 billion in new
business and public revenues, and injecting $100 billion more in
wages into the U.S. economy, according to a recent CNA/NNOC

HR 676, the U.S. National Health Care Act by Rep. John
Conyers, is the plan that best meets the grand vision painted by
our president. "We call on Congress and the administration to
work with us to enact it," Jenkins said.

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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