There is a fascinating study and proposal out by the California Nurses Association http://www.calnurses.org/ about the benefits of expanding Medicare for all Americans. This is a must read for all nurses to begin to understand the direction that this country will likely go in to provide healthcare coverage for all citizens, what the financial impact would be, and how a one-payer system would benefit everyone. Read the press release at http://www.calnurses.org .
I hear so many people, both in and out of healthcare, speak with disdain about “socialized medicine.” Socialized medicine just means publicly funded, publicly administered healthcare. The fact is that we have had a form of socialized medicine – Medicare – for over 40 years in the US. However, it has only been available to senior citizens and disabled individuals. This proposal recommends extending Medicare benefits for all. To do so, according to their research, would cost less than what the federal government recently paid to bail out CitiCorp. Nurses are lobbying the Obama camp to consider it. What would likely happen to private insurers? Many of them, who incidentally have been experiencing their own financial difficulties for years, would continue to operate for those who want it and can afford to pay for it and for those employers who wish to continue to offer private healthcare benefits to their employees. But Medicare would be there for those who are self-employed, retired, out of work, have jobs that don’t provide healthcare benefits, etc.
Let’s get away from the phrase “socialized medicine” since it makes so many people cringe and is vastly misunderstood, and shift to the concept of “universal access to healthcare.” Nurses have any amazing opportunity to take a lead in this process and be part of the debate and the solution.