The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Liz Jacobs, RN, 510-273-2232 or Michael Lighty, 510-273-2242

Nurses Unveil Bold New Ad Charting Third Way in Healthcare Debate

“Our taxes should pay for our healthcare: Seniors have it. Congress has it. Other countries have it. Why not the rest of us?”


Challenging policymakers to heed the advice of America's registered nurses to guarantee healthcare for all, National Nurses United (NNU) is sending a message to House Speaker John Boehner and other members of Congress and the administration.

"The message is simple," says Jean Ross, co-president of NNU, "Our taxes pay for Congressmembers' healthcare, our taxes pay for seniors' healthcare; let's use our taxes to pay for our healthcare."

NNU, the nation's largest organization of direct-care RNs, announced the launch today of a national online advertising campaign that calls on nurses to reach out to voters in Boehner's Ohio congressional district, Michele Bachmann's Minnesota district, and a California political swing district in the Central Valleyrepresented by Jeff Denham, where thousands go without health insurance. As the campaign rolls out, dozens more districts will be added.

Ross, an RN who lives in Minnesota, put it succinctly: "Since everyone needs healthcare, we need to guarantee that everyone has it."

"Our taxes pay for Congressmembers' healthcare," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of NNU. "Every other country in the world, where U.S. corporations build factories and sell services, uses taxes to pay for their public healthcare. All Americans deserve that same kind of care."

As the New York Times recently reported, these countries with tax-funded national health systems have dramatically lowered costs for medical procedures and devices.

According to NNU, the tax subsidies to buy insurance under Obamacare mostly move money around to pay for private insurance for some that don't have it, and allow the insurance companies to take 20 cents off the top of each dollar spent. Nurses say it would be more efficient to uses taxes to pay for everybody's healthcare directly, eliminating the middleman and the shell game. The current approach sets up a healthcare system based on ability to pay.

"You get only the healthcare you can afford, which leaves tens of millions uninsured, the wealthy with access to better care, poor people at the mercy of states who may or may not want to expand Medicaid, workers dependent on their employers, and employers stuck with the bill," said Ross.

"As numerous reports have documented, that bill for everyone keeps going up, as the price of healthcare keeps rising without any relationship to quality of care," said DeMoro. "The U.S. has the most expensive health system in the world with worse health status and health outcomes than dozens of other advanced countries."

As a result, Jean Ross says, "Registered nurses see and treat an ongoing patient care crisis: patients who forego medical treatment or diagnostic tests they've been prescribed. We see directly the impact of concern over bankruptcy, and the higher risk of heart attacks and strokes because of money worries."

Reinforcing that view, a July 2012 Kaiser Family Foundation survey of the U.S. found 52 percent of men and 64 percent of women delaying or skipping care.

Now as Congress goes home, without passing a budget or creating more jobs, stuck in gridlock, but having made sure they still get taxpayer-funded healthcare, it's time for them to listen to nurses.

"Our patients are at risk," said Ross. "Some big employers are reducing workers' hours to avoid providing health insurance, and the insurance companies are charging whatever they want, yet it would be so simple to cover everybody if we just used our taxes to pay for our healthcare."

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.

(240) 235-2000