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Single-Payer Health Care in an Age of Two-Party Politics

One of my favorite monthly publications is Registered Nurse – the journal of the fast growing, progressive California Nurses Association (CNA) – a union that stands up for patients rights and well-being.

The June 2008 issue contains stories that illustrate how this nurses group takes stands. On June 19, the CNA sponsored street rallies for its Medicare for all (single-payer with free choice of doctor and hospital) in San Francisco and a dozen other major cities around the nation.

For over a decade th California Nurses Assocation (CNA) have made full Medicare for all their major goal. They have run voter initiatives, lobbied legislatures and have opposed sweetheart labor-management deals like those embraced by the Service Employees International Union – SEIU. (SEIU also opposes single-payer health insurance which is supported by a majority of physicians and the American people.)

The June magazine describers the autocratic attitude of SEIU toward its members and how its leader, Andy Stern, cuts labor deals with large corporate employers that shockingly deprive workers of normal union rights.

Here is an example of what CNA says:

“In exchange for access to more dues units, SEIU gave California nursing home operators the “exclusive right” to set all pay rates, working conditions, speed up and reassign work, eliminate jobs at will, and outsource union work.”

“SEIU also agreed to support legislation limiting patient’s right to sue over care abuses, to oppose reforms to require better staffing for patients safety, and to never report health care code violations.”

Stern rejected single-payer health insurance at his recent union convention. Senator Barack Obama has declined to propose single-payer as well. SEIU is pouring tens of millions of dollars to elect Senator Obama President. CNA works to eliminate “the insurance nightmare through establishing a high-quality, single payer healthcare system. (See http://www.guaranteedhealthcare.org/blog)

The current health care industry is a wasteful, redundant, defrauding mess costing Americans over 2.2 trillion this year and hundreds of thousands of avoidable injuries, fatalities and serious infections a year. The honest, competent caregivers are on the edge of despair, unable to do their best work due to the domination and control of commercial-profit priorities which include denial of care by these corporations.

People die or get sicker sometimes when they are denied health care. People die when they cannot afford health insurance – 18,000 Americans a year according to the Institute of Medicine

Corporate billing fraud and abuse costs over $200 billion a year. Ask Malcolm Sparrow of the Kennedy School at Harvard University or read his book License to Steal.

Do you ever hear John McCain or Barack Obama focus public attention on these tragedies and rip-offs of consumers and taxpayers?

The employers of health insurance companies, hospital chains and drug industry are pouring money into the coffers of these two men and their parties.

Strange as it many seem, on June 26, 2008 even the principled, independent California Nurses Association fell in line with the AFL-CIO. The CNA endorsed Senator Barack Obama.

Well, Senator Obama doesn’t have to worry a minute about CNA’s nurses putting up one of their famous critical demonstrations at his events. He can continue dialing for corporate dollars.

RALPH NADER is running for president as an independent.

 

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Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

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