Medicare for all

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.

Comments

  1. I agree with this assessment. Currently our system is way more “socialized” than most people care to admit. There are so many governmental controls and strings attached to healthcare, that making the move to a much more accessible system should not be too hard for people to support. I have many many Canadien friends, as I was born and raised in Buffalo NY, and they like their Socialized system a lot. As a society we are only as strong as our weakest people. If we consider the poor, the sick and the addicted too much of a burden, then we are NOT a nation worth anything. I understand that we cannot “save” everyone, but we also cannot be a “throw away” society that seems to believe that if you do not have a job with the almighty “Health Insurance” then you are not worth anything. I think the words folks should dread more is the continuation of “Health Insurance” as we know it. The current economy is sending thousands every day into the ranks of the uninsured. Your worth cannot be measured by whether or not you have health insurance. My Canadien friends are nurses and they are proud of the work they do within their health system. Their pay affords them a decent living and they are glad they and their loved ones have access to healthcare.

  2. I was raised in a military family and my mom is British. I spent many years in England as a child and when my dad was deployed we saw the same British doctor that my mom did when she was growing up. I returned to England as an adult and worked as an RN, (RGN in the British system) from 2004-2006. Being a dual citizen of the USA and England, I had a British doctor while I was there. Having been both a RN in the USA and England, and having been a patient in the American healthcare system, and the British system I will attest that socialized medicine works! Citizens in the US are afraid that by having a social system of medicine, they will not have access to the many options – I know by experience that this is not true. What is true is that very elderly patients do not get to have (for example) a bilateral TKA at age 80+ (as I have just had in my work at the level 1 trauma hospital that I work at). England seems to employees a more logical approach to their care. Another example: if a person in their 40’s needs a bilateral TKA, but weighs 400lbs, they will make them lose weight before spending the money to do this. (These are very general examples, and I know that healthcare revision is not this simple). We are a nation of litigation, so every bump and bruise gets an MRI or CT, when an ice pack and tylenol should be the first course of treatment. Doctors have to cover themselves and order every test in the book. This all costs a lot of money. Another huge disparity that I have seen is that the USA does not put money into health promotion and education. We fix it when it’s broken, but we don’t do enough to prevent health problems before they start. So having the first hand knowledge and experience that I do, I support healthcare reform and socialized medicine.