by Jon Tollefson
MNA Government Relations Specialist
A lot of people saw what was happening and which way the election was going, but they felt the political elite didn’t listen to them. And they were probably right. People tend to get into their own bubbles and stay there, echo chambers of agreement. That makes it hard to see and understand one another.
Minnesota’s nurses are diverse in terms of race, age, and certainly political beliefs. Many nurses likely continue to feel outrage and deep sadness at the results of the election while others celebrated a victory and a sense that, finally, they’ve been heard. But one thing all nurses have in common is their commitment to the patients they serve every day. And that has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans or Libertarians or any other party.
Minnesotans returned a divided government to Saint Paul and gave the GOP control of the state house and senate to work with a DFL Governor. They still expect the two parties to get something done. The national level is more skewed right, however, with Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. The only question there is what Republicans will do and how it will affect nurses and our patients.
We have an uncertain time ahead of us. The Minnesota Nurses Association House of Delegates and the Board of Directors have adopted clear policy goals that they wish to see accomplished on behalf of Minnesota’s nurses. First and foremost is ensuring that every patient receives the safe, high-quality care they need at all times. Patients are getting less and less of their nurse’s time because the nurse is caring for too many patients at once and spending too much time charting each task for billing purposes. Is it really safe, high-quality care when the patient only gets to see their nurse for a few minutes every hour? Studies show patients fall more, get more pressure ulcers, and even die because hospital executives are trying to make an extra buck by giving a patient less of a nurse’s time.
The whole medical-industrial complex is harming our patients more and more every year—the problem is getting worse. Hospitals are supposed to be non-profit, but they are driven by money like a Wall Street Fortune 500 company. Nurses are driven by their patients. That’s why we fight for a system that is affordable for everyone. It’s not just hospitals that are driven by money, it’s insurance companies, too. They divide up patients into different groups and charge them different premiums based on their employment and marital status. They do that to maximize their profit, even though they already pocket millions and millions of dollars from taxpayers through public programs. It’s not right.
This is healthcare, not Wal-mart.
So, no matter who is in control of government, Minnesota’s nurses will fight for high-quality, affordable care for all. We fight to restore healthcare to a relationship between patients and their doctors and nurses, not their insurance company. We fight to restore the authority of doctors and nurses to make patient care decisions, not hospital financial officers. And we fight to make sure that everyone receives care when they need it without regard to their ability to pay. We have a lot to fight for, and we’re not stopping now.