National Nurses United

Registered Nurse October 2009

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LET TER FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS we should all be saying a big collective "thank you" to the 13,000 nurses of Catholic Healthcare West who just negotiated a stellar master contract that, even during these harsh economic times, manages to break new ground. One of the most exciting aspects of the new contract, which covers 36 facilities in California and Nevada, is real assurances that the hospital chain will follow the best policies, procedures, and government guidelines needed to protect nurses and patients against infection during pandemics, such as H1N1. In addition, they bargained the first CNA/NNOC contract with many, many improvements for St. Rose Dominican system RNs in Las Vegas, and held the line against takeaways, even securing raises for everyone in the four-year agreement. You can read all about it in the news section of this issue . We are also happy to report that we have made significant progress in building National Nurses United, our new super union with United American Nurses and the Massachusetts Nurses Association, and are very excited to be gathering in December for our founding convention. Stay tuned in our next issue for news on NNU. Now for some bad news. Sadly, Congress is poised to pass a national healthcare reform bill that fails to live up to the promise of extending a quality, single standard of healthcare for everyone, such as the single-payer or Medicare-for-all system we nurses advocate. There are more than a few positive provisions in the bill that will help expand certain aspects of healthcare, such as elimination of the "doughnut hole" in the Medicare drug coverage law and additional regulation of insur- REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, October 2009 Volume 105/8 is published by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. It provides news of organizational activities and reports on developments of concern to all registered nurses across the nation. It also carries general coverage and commentary on matters of nursing practice, community and public health, and healthcare policy. It is published monthly except for combined issues in January and February, and July and August. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Registered Nurse, 2000 ™ Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612-2908. To send a media release or announcement, fax (510) 6630629. Registered Nurse™ is carried on the CNA/NNOC website at ers to ensure they don't drop sick policyholders or deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. But the legislation for the most part strengthens the overall grip of the insurance industry on healthcare and drives more customers to private insurers by mandating that people who do not already carry coverage buy it. For an in-depth analysis of the bill, please check out executive director Rose Ann DeMoro's column in this issue. Lastly, our features section this month spotlights the huge insurance obstacles patients frequently encounter when they try to get mental healthcare and access services, needed drugs, therapies, and hospitalization. Health insurers have historically restricted or provided more meager coverage for mental health than physical health. Our first article explores how a law that was passed to ensure mental health parity is riddled with loopholes and falls short. Our second story discusses the trend toward mass screenings of patients for mental health problems, often pushed by pharmaceutical companies who stand to profit as growing numbers of patients are simply put on a drug regimen. We hope these stories give you more insight into an area of healthcare that deserves more attention. By the way, the battle against H1N1 swine flu continues. You should know that the Centers for Disease Control in October reaffirmed fitted, N-95 or better masks as the standard to prevent infection, single use only! Surgical masks just do not cut it. Read more in the news section about N-95 masks and for links to resources. Stay healthy everyone. Deborah Burger, RN | Geri Jenkins, RN Malinda Markowitz, RN | Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, RN CNA/NNOC Council of Presidents For permission to reprint articles, write to Editorial Office. To subscribe, send $40 ($45 foreign) to Subscription Department. California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee also produces California Nurse, which it will ™ continue to publish periodically. PLEASE CONTACT US WITH YOUR STORY IDEAS They can be about practice or management trends you've observed, or simply something new you've encountered in the profession. They can be about one nurse, unit, or hospital, or about the wider landscape of healthcare policy from an RN's perspective. They can be humorous, or a matter of life and death. If you're a writer and would like to contribute an article, please let us know. Our contact information is in the masthead. executive editor Rose Ann DeMoro editor Lucia Hwang graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD Donna Smith photography Jaclyn Higgs Lauren Reid

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