Let's take this moment to celebrate the SEIU nurses, doctors, and healthcare workers nationwide for their instrumental role in bringing quality, affordable health insurance to millions of people by driving an Affordable Care Act education and outreach campaign that reached more than 2.4 million people over roughly six months.
Without a doubt, SEIU members and our allies have made our contribution to the great news that over 7 million Americans have signed up for quality, affordable health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces since October 1. The March 31 deadline still applies but the White House announced special enrollment periods for people who had trouble completing the sign up process.
Even as we celebrate this victory for the law, we must continue to defend it against attack. The Supreme Court considered the Hobby Lobby case on contraceptive coverage on March 25 and nurses came out in force to advocate on behalf of their patients, with SEIU Nurse Alliance members converging in Washington DC and taking to the radio waves and the editorial pages. I made my voice heard in my hometown paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and AFSCME President Lee Saunders weighed in on wider implications of the case in a USA Today editorial.
In this issue we also highlight:
- the 4th annual Public Health Nurse Conference in California
- landmark legislation in Maryland
- the healthcare law as a job creator
Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare
California Nurse Alliance Hosts Fourth Annual Public Health Nurse Conference
The Nurse Alliance of California hosted the fourth annual Public Health Nurse Conference, "Providing Quality Care Under Safer Conditions," March 22 in San Francisco.
This conference was held solely for public health nurses and focused on the unique challenges and opportunities that they face in the workplace and strategies on how to provide quality care under safer conditions by taking proactive workplace violence prevention measures to protect their patients and themselves.
The conference also educated nurse participants on how the changes in the new healthcare system will affect the daily practice of public health nurses.
Nurse participants received 6 hours of BRN credit.
1199 Bargaining Teams from 19 Hospitals Kick-Off Florida HCA Campaign
Eighty 1199 bargaining and contract action team members at the end of January launched their statewide campaign to negotiate contracts at 19 HCA-affiliated hospitals in Florida. The group of nurses, techs, pharmacists, environmental services workers, dietary workers and secretaries spent a day and a half developing a unified set of principles, coming to agreement on contract priorities and ratifying a plan to gain the strength necessary to negotiate with the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain.
"We're off and running," said Angelo Lista, a PCA from Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte. "Now it's going to be up to every one of us to build our membership so we have enough power behind us at the bargaining table. It's not about what's in front of you - it's about who's behind you."
Read the full blog post by clicking here
1199SEIU Nurses Win Staffing Victory
After 1199SEIU nurses at HCA-affiliated University Hospital and Medical Center in Tamarac, FL together documented staffing assignments and raised objections to being floated to departments where they did not feel qualified to work, the hospital agreed to create 13 new positions.
Read the full post here:
House, Senate Pass Landmark Healthcare Workplace Violence Prevention Law
1199SEIU members in Maryland fought hard and won a huge victory for nurses and other caregivers when the Health Care Facilities Workplace Violence Prevention Act (HB 710 and SB 483) passed the General Assembly. This legislation, for the first time, provides a set of clear standards that employers must follow to keep caregivers safe from workplace violence.
"It's a problem that's way too common - and one we faced in silence, as if it were just part of the job," explained Kim Perkins, a member of 1199SEIU and a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department of Prince George's Hospital. "Caregivers from across the state started coming together last year to say, 'Enough is enough.'"
The new law requires healthcare facilities in Maryland to produce an annual risk assessment and document all incidents of workplace violence. Facilities will now also be required to convene a violence prevention committee that includes front-line staff and hold annual staff trainings. Finally, facilities will need to develop a post-incident response system so that affected caregivers get the support and care they need following an attack.
The law goes into effect in October 2014.
Nurses Reach Out to Educate People About the Healthcare Law
SEIU 1199NW created a series of video leading up to the March 31 open enrollment deadline to educate people about the healthcare law and make sure they have the information they need to sign up.
The New York Times Magazine explores how the healthcare law has created job opportunities by making it easier to get health insurance as an individual--outside of your job. The magazine tells the story of Lauren Braun, a woman who came up with a business plan that would make it easier for mothers to remember to vaccinate their children, but was nervous about leaving her health insurance behind. Read more about Lauren's story:
During college, Lauren Braun worked at a health clinic in Peru, where she spent an inordinate amount of time tracking down mothers in an effort to get them to bring their children in for vaccinations. The experience was frustrating, but through it Braun came up with a business plan: Make silicone bracelets that function as punch cards, to remind mothers about upcoming appointments. Back in the United States, she consulted with mentors and perfected the idea, but then, she set it aside after graduation, going to work for a large health-insurance company, taking a salary and benefits over the uncertain life of an entrepreneur...
A year and a half later, she got word that her bracelet company, Alma Sana, might have a life after all: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had awarded her $100,000 to test the idea. Braun was O.K. with the 60 percent pay cut she would take by quitting her day job. But she did not want to lose her health insurance.
Were it not for Obamacare, Braun, 25, would be confronting a phenomenon that economists call "job lock": when people stay in jobs they dislike, or don't want, solely to keep their health coverage.
To read the full story click here to see the New York Times Magazine
While the Republican Party refrain is still on repeal of the healthcare law, this story from Florida highlights the stories of Republican voters who love "Obamacare."
"I did not vote for Obama," she said. "But I am so in love with this plan, with this health care plan, what can I do?"
She knows that her party wants to repeal it. "But I don't think they're going to," she said. "There are too many people out there who need this and require it."
She says her husband Ronald died last year from a rare sarcoma because he waited too long to see a doctor after he felt a lump.
"If my husband had gone, if he had insurance at the time, when it was the size of a marble and had gotten an x-ray and taken care of it at stage 1 level, he would be alive today."
Listen to and read the story here
The most expensive provisions of Obamacare will cost taxpayers about $100 billion less than expected, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday [April 14].
CBO also said it doesn't expect big premium increases next year for insurance plans sold through the healthcare law's exchanges.
Click here to read the full article at the National Journal
Read the CBO analysis here
Reports of a puzzling polio-like syndrome affecting children in northern California have launched something of media frenzy.
Read more at Medscape by clicking here
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