News & Events

Support single-payer health care (DS)

Published on May 22, 2009

National Nurses Day, May 7, honored nurses for their contributions to quality patient care. Nurses are proud to have the distinction of being among the most trusted professionals for honesty and ethics, according to a Gallup poll. There are nearly 2.9 million registered nurses in the U.S. who perform as professional educators, researchers, patient advocates and healers. Many nurses are disheartened by the fact that today more than 47 million Americans have no reliable access to health care.

Nurses are dedicated to relieving suffering, yet every day we see human suffering due to our country’s healthcare crisis and the plight of the uninsured and underinsured. Nurses see patients who cannot afford life saving prescription drugs. Nurses see patients who cannot afford to seek preventive care and who then end up in ERs with complicated, chronic illnesses that lead to more costly intervention. Even patients who have health insurance can be denied treatment. One-half of all bankruptcies are due to medical costs and three-quarters of those people had health insurance at the start of their illnesses.

America needs a single-payer national health care program. We ask the private insurance companies to step aside. They have failed to deliver care equitably. They have failed to control costs. They have failed to create the best health outcomes. The U.S. is 49th in life expectancy and 44th in infant mortality among 224 nations of the world. Yet, we spend more than twice as much on health care as the higher-ranked nations. Private insurance companies put profit ahead of our health. They extract 30 percent of every health-care dollar for profit, advertising, marketing, inflated CEO salaries, medical underwriting and administrative waste.

A single-payer plan, such as that embodied in the House of Representatives bill HR 676, the U.S. Health Care Act, or in the Senate bill, S703, the American Health Security Act of 2009, would provide equitable, affordable, high quality, comprehensive care for every American. A single payer plan would: provide automatic coverage for life, regardless of job loss or job change; include preventive care, dental, vision, hearing, mental health and long-term care; assure choice of doctor and hospital; control costs by eliminating wasteful spending.

The majority of Americans favor a single-payer health care program. The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the California Nurses Association, 59 percent of physicians, members of the American College of Physicians and the Physicians for a National Health Program all support the single-payer approach to health care.

We ask our legislators to heed the call of nurses and other medical professionals and adopt a national single-payer health care plan for our nation. It is the humane thing to do.
Rosemary Kofler and Leslie Nyman are registered nurses who live in Amherst.