With votes looming, nurses union condemns GOP health care bill as ‘flawed and deadly’

WASHINGTON–With key votes on health care looming in Congress, the nation’s leading union for registered nurses issued a scathing analysis of the ruling Republicans’ health care plan. The GOP legislation “is flawed and deadly,” National Nurses United said.

“Registered nurses care for Americans in their most difficult hours. More than any other profession, we see the personal effects of a flawed health care system in the hospital every single day. Our primary responsibility is to protect the health and wellness of our patients by providing care at the bedside,” NNU told lawmakers in a detailed March 21 letter.

“The American Health Care Act” — the GOP’s health care bill — “poses a mortal threat to the health and well-being of our patients, and to the health security of our country.”

NNU’s analysis, sent to every lawmaker, came as the GOP House leadership planned  votes on March 23 on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Senate GOP leaders want to vote on it before April 7. AHCA would replace the 7-year-old Affordable Care Act.

At 4 pm Eastern Time on March 23, lacking enough Republicans to pass their health care bill, House GOP leaders postponed the vote.

NNU and other unions joined a wide coalition which bombarded solons with phone calls and e-mails against the measure. But the nurses got down to details. Their specifics included:

• Throwing 24 million Americans off of health insurance coverage, increasing the number of uninsured by 78 percent by 2020 and 86 percent by 2026, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.

• Letting insurers charge those aged 50-64 five times as much as they charge the median customer, not three times. At that higher level, people would have to drop insurance, NNU said. That “will enhance the profits of insurance companies at the expense of patients’ lives,” the union adds.

• Killing the ACA’s prevention and public health fund. That “will worsen the health of our communities, spread infectious disease, and increase health system costs,” NNU said.

• Medicaid changes to freeze its spending starting in 2020, and changing it into either a cap on the amount of Medicaid one person can get, or a state-run block grant.

“Both options will reduce coverage for the most vulnerable, shift care from clinics to emergency rooms, increase system costs for the chronically ill as they defer treatments because of cost, and unfairly shift the burden of costs to the states,” NNU said.

• Killing funding to Planned Parenthood, “which will worsen women’s health, and create burdens for women, families and society from unsafe pregnancies and other health conditions no longer treated.” Planned Parenthood is a favorite bugaboo of anti-choice Republicans.

• “Eliminate the definition of ‘essential benefits,'” which insurers must cover, such as pregnancy treatment. That “makes all patients vulnerable to the distortions and marketing games of insurance companies,” NNU said.

• By repealing cost-sharing subsidies in the ACA, the GOP bill would have two impacts, NNU said: (1) Throwing 80 percent of current insurance clients off the state and federal-run exchanges for people who lack company-provided insurance and (2) “opening the door for junk insurance” with low costs but little coverage.

“The legislation shifts thousands of dollars in spending from insurance company spending to the individual’s out of pocket costs…Our experience at the bedside, coupled with analysis from health policy researchers, confirms our conclusion this bill does not address the primary concerns of our patients: Getting the care they need when they need it, without overwhelming financial burdens,” the union’s analysis concludes.

Source: PAI