Nurses speak out for Single Payer
by Rachel Prusak, family nurse practitioner and Vice President of Nurses for Single Payer
Nurses for Single Payer (NFSP) stands for a health care plan that is simpler, more comprehensive and far more cost effective than the reforms advocated by most politicians. A basic political truth is that elected officials cannot take on the establishment if they accept the establishment’s money. It is simply not credible to believe politicians who receive significant amounts of support from special interests in the world of pharmaceutical and insurance will make decisions that act against the bottom line of these powerful donors. If politicians care about the health of our country, they need first to acknowledge that despite having the world’s most expensive health care system, the U.S. ranks last overall among eleven industrialized countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.) As reported in the Commonwealth Fund Reports, the U.S. is last on measures of health system quality, efficiency, and access to care.
The only way to bring about real change is to mobilize and organize people at the grassroots level against the establishment and against the big money interests. NFSP is this grassroots movement. We believe nurses have an important role to play in guiding our country to join the rest of the modern world in guaranteeing health care as a human right. NFSP is ready to educate local communities about how single payer works and to support candidates who are not afraid to take on the powerful interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. NFSP isn’t wealthy or well-connected. We don’t have rich lobbyists. We are a movement of individuals working together who believe nurses should have a greater say in the direction of health care in our country. NFSP has listened to and cared for all segments of our populace: the working families, the elderly, the children; now we are ready to advocate for them in the political forum. We will stand up to the corrupt, ineffective and wasteful health care system that ignores and bankrupts our hard-working citizens while enriching the CEO’s of pharmaceutical and insurance companies.
A single payer system is an ethical and efficient health care system that invests in the delivery of health care and disease prevention. It is a model that spends money on nurses, doctors, mental health specialist, dentists, nurse practitioners, social workers and other personnel who provide real services to people to improve their lives. The current system wastes hundreds of billions of dollars a year on profiteering, huge executive compensation packages, and outrageous administrative costs. The inefficiency and bureaucracy of our health care system impacts patients and demoralizes health care workers. The vast majority of health care workers pursue careers in the healing professions because they genuinely want to make a difference in the world. The members of NFSP did not aspire to become nurses only to spend countless hours at a computer, filling out forms or arguing with insurance companies on behalf of our patients. We did not seek out nursing just to watch our patients denied access to simple, cost-effective treatment. We became nurses to fight for our patients.
The United States is the wealthiest nation on earth. So why do millions of citizens go without low cost medical visits and affordable medications, the absence of which results in complications, costly hospitalization and long-term care? Why is it that a baby born in the U.S. is less likely to see its first birthday than a baby born in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Japan, Korea or even Cuba? Why do we tolerate a system in which senior citizens are obliged to cut their pills in half because of the outrageously high cost of their medication? Why is the U.S. the only major country on earth that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right?
These are the tough questions our country needs to answer and NFSP is ready to lead the discussion. Now is the time to move away from the current dysfunctional system and join the rest of the industrialized world. Now is the time to guarantee comprehensive health care to all. Please join Nurses for Single Payer in the efforts to educate our communities about the only ethical and cost-effective answer to our health care needs: A Single Payer System.