By Rose Roach
MNA Executive Director
The Minnesota Nurses Association supports the Minnesota Health Act as proposed by Roseville Senator John Marty and Northfield Representative David Bly (SF 219/HF358). We say loudly and enthusiastically, it’s about time. Finally, we see the proven solution to the healthcare crisis that rages on in this state and in this country.
Nurses don’t care about your insurance card or your credit card—the only card they’re interested in is your get-well card. As natural advocates for their patients and front line workers in the healthcare world, who better to articulate the reality of a system that puts corporate greed over human need? The corporatization of our health care system is no small matter. Nurses understand the clinical side of patient care but they also understand the “business” side of healthcare and know that the current system is simply unsustainable with 30 cents of every healthcare dollar going to something other than direct care. Nurses do not believe anyone should profit from another human being’s suffering. As the most trusted profession in the nation, being out front and leading this call for health care as a human right makes all the sense in the world for nurses.
Nurses often tell us that the patients they see these days are sicker than ever before. And why is that? Because patients get less preventative care, they wait longer for care, and not everyone has the same access to care. As licensed nurses in Minnesota, this is an inequity that is unjust, and MNA members cannot sit idly by and allow it to continue. We have a fragmented multi-payer system based on those who don’t provide care making a profit off those who need care, and that’s immoral. All we’re talking about here is a system wherein everyone gets to go to the doctor without fear of losing their home, savings, the kid’s college, or their retirement funds just because they were unfortunate enough to get sick.
The reality is we don’t consume health; there is no choice between illness and health. When you’re diagnosed with cancer, you and your family’s main focus, as it should be, is to get you the treatment you need to save your life, to get well. It should not be about shopping for the cheapest radiation and chemotherapy. That’s why the Minnesota Nurses Association fully supports the kind of healthcare system proposed in the Minnesota Health Act. It’s patient centered. Time and time again, study after study, has soundly demonstrated that such a system does four things; 1) saves lives, 2) guarantees coverage for EVERYONE, 3) improves quality of care and most importantly, 4) saves lives.
Health care is not a consumable good, it’s a public good and should be treated as such not like a commodity traded on a market of precious metals. There’s plenty of money in this system. We just need to reallocate those dollars to actual care.
Nurses want people to understand that what they should fear, when it comes to a healthcare system, is the status quo, not change. As human beings, we are all susceptible to issues that affect our health. We have publicly financed education to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get an education; we have publicly financed fire and police to ensure our safety; why wouldn’t we have publicly financed, privately delivered health care to ensure our health as a community? If you’re sitting in a room full of people and someone in that room has TB everyone has now been exposed to TB – heal the patient. We’ll all be healthier, and financially more secure, by doing so.
Nurses are healers. When you’re sick or injured nurses want to heal you, period. A major role of nursing is centered on patient advocacy. So for nurses, fighting for a humane healthcare system is the ultimate way to advocate for their patients.