National Nurses United

Registered Nurse September 2008

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LETTER FROM THE COUNCIL OF PRESIDENTS i n t h i s i s s u e , we expose the ugly truth behind accessing healthcare through health savings accounts: you can't do it. Or at least not without making bad trade-offs between your health and your wallet. Yet health savings accounts are a cornerstone of presidential candidate John McCain's healthcare platform and the mechanism he claims would expand insurance coverage to more Americans. But as you'll learn in our feature story this month, working people with average incomes receive little to no benefit from health savings accounts. Health savings accounts, or HSAs, are a financial instrument that primarily help the wealthy shelter more of their income from taxes and serve as an investment vehicle. And they are a way for McCain to give the illusion that he is proposing some solution to the healthcare crisis while actually shifting the societal responsibility for public health to individuals' shoulders. In fact, this conservative philosophy extends beyond healthcare to all facets of public policy: employment and workplace rights; retirement security, Social Security, and Medicare; environmental standards; public education; the list goes on. We call it the "on your own" society, and it basically means you have no rights and we, as a people, have no social obligation to one another. You only get in life what you can pay for. And if you cannot pay for it, too bad. This seminal 2008 presidential election really boils down to a choice between this bleak future and, we believe, a more humane vision of America that acknowledges our social contract and the idea that when one of us suffers, we all suffer. We believe Barack Obama best represents the vision of the REGISTERED NURSE,™ (ISSN 1932-8966) The Journal of Patient Advocacy, September 2008 Volume 104/7 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 country we'd like to build, and we urge you to go to the polls come November to help make that vision a reality. One component of our vision for a better nation is a single-payer healthcare system where everyone has access to the same high quality of care. No insurance middlemen bean counters denying and delaying authorizations. No insurance rejections because you had breast cancer. No surprise bills from the hospital for that specialist who was out of network. To pass federal legislation establishing singlepayer, the bill HR 676, we need to elect lawmakers who support single-payer. The November election is another opportunity to do that, and we highlight a number of races across the country where strong single-payer advocates are running. They need and deserve our help and support. We can accomplish so much through collective action, and a few other events this past month highlight that truth. Most RNs working for Sutter Health facilities throughout northern California have finally settled hard-won, but outstanding contracts that address serious patient safety concerns. And RNs with Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center in Reno, Nev. won their first contract just 10 short months after unionizing, a groundbreaking agreement that includes California-style ratios for the first time outside of California. This is a critical November election. Do not sit on the sidelines. As registered nurses, we have the duty and right to advocate for people who are vulnerable, and it extends beyond the bedside to all aspects of public life. Exercise it. 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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