National Nurses United

California Nurse magazine April 2006

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CALIFORNIA NURSE April 2006 Volume 102/3 (ISSN 0008- 1310) is published by the California Nurses Association, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA. 94612-2908. It provides news of the Association's activities and reports on develop- ments of concern to all registered nurses in the state. It also carries general coverage and commentary on matters of nursing practice, community health, and healthcare policy. It is published ten times a year with combined issues in the summer and winter. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California. Postmas- ter send address changes to California Nurse, 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA. 94612-2908. To send a media release or announcement: Phone: 510-273- 2200 Ext. 249; Fax: 510-663-0629; California Nurse is carried on the CNA website: For permission to reprint articles write to Editorial Office. To subscribe: Send $40 ($45 foreign) to Subscription Department. P L E A S E C O N T A C T U S W I T H Y O U R S T O R Y I D E A S 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 hospi- tal, 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. when you turn 65, all of a sudden, you get healthcare coverage through Medicare. You get to see a doctor. You get to not go bankrupt if you have to go into the hospital because you had a stroke or heart attack or slipped and broke your hip. So what 's so magic about the age 65? Why is it acceptable to run a single-payer healthcare system for people after they hit the six-and-a-half decade mark, but not before? No reason, that's the point. Comparing life before and after Medicare highlights just how absurd our current system— or should I say non- system?—of health insurance is. Luke Asbury understands this all too well. This issue profiles the self-employed IT project manager who, at age 64, is too old and not healthy enough to qualify for or afford individual coverage, but not old enough to get Medicare. So he has to pay for everything out of his own pocket, and to stretch the dollars, he skimps on his medication dosages and has to practically cut out all the little pleasures of life. He almost never goes to the movies or dinners out. Hasn't bought new clothes in four years. Drives a 24-year-old truck. Not to mention that he's totally exposed when it comes to catastrophic or emergency medical care. There's more and more people like Luke everywhere you turn these days. There are even plenty of nurses out there who don't get retiree health benefits and are at a loss for medical coverage if they stop working before 65, so they keep working. The human toll of having no national healthcare system couldn't have been more apparent to the nurses who volun- teered in the Gulf region after Katrina. Volunteer RNs were shocked and dismayed to learn that the care they were pro- viding survivors was often the first real medical attention they had ever received. The nurses, meanwhile, found ram- pant and uncontrolled diabetes, hypertension, and asthma among a large portion of the refugees. These volunteers gathered in mid March for a reunion and to learn how to channel their anger over what they saw into action. At the event, we kicked off our campaign to win "Medicare for all" legislation at the state and national level: through Sen. Sheila Kuehl's SB 840, which would establish a single-payer system in California, and Congressman John Conyers, Jr.'s HR 676, which would do the same at the national level. See the news brief section for a report on this momentous occasion. I don't want to end up in the same situation as Luke, and I don't think you'd want you, your friends, or your kids to, either. So let's act now. Contact your labor rep or CNA nurse leader to find out how to get involved. Deborah Burger, RN CNA and NNOC president LETTER FROM TH E PR ESI DENT CaliforniaNurse editor Lucia Hwang executive editor Rose Ann DeMoro graphic design Jonathan Wieder communications director Charles Idelson contributors Hedy Dumpel, RN, JD

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