Nurses Fight on to Heal America
By Donna Smith
It has been four years since theCalifornia Nurses Association stood with the Sarkisyan family and their beautiful extended community to fight the decision by the family’s insurance company to deny 17-year-old Nataline coverage for her liver transplant. Though the Sarkisyan’s were successful in pushing CIGNA to overturn the denial, Nataline was by then too ill to have the transplant, and she died. But the fight did not die to assure that cases like Nataline’s are decided on the basis of medical need and not corporate greed. Our thoughts are with the Sarkisyan family as they heal and continue their work through the Nataline Sarkisyan Foundation. The nurses will never give up as patient advocates though the lives lost leave holes in our hearts and our communities.
The California Nurses Association also celebrate an important milestone in December with the anniversary (December 7, 2009) of the founding of National Nurses United with other state nurses’associations to form the largest professional union of registered nurses in the nation and now 170,000 members. Nurses from Maine to California, Michigan to Florida, Massachusetts to Nevada, Minnesota to Illinois, Pennsylvania to Texas, Washington, D.C., and beyond are a force for real change as they advocate for their patients and for the healing of America.
During the past year, the nurses have launched the Main Street Contract campaign calling for guaranteed healthcare for all, jobs at living wages, retirement with dignity, quality education, safe housing and adequate food, and a clean, safe environment. As they have pushed for these basic public goods, the nurses support the American Health Security Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Jim McDermott of Washington State as HR1200 in the House of Representatives, and by Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont as S915 in the Senate. Under this bill, patients and their doctors and other medical professionals would decide the appropriate course of treatment not insurance company accountants or risk management teams watching the bottom line.
The NNU nurses are also supporting a financial transaction tax that impose a small but meaningful tax on Wall Street transactions as a down payment on the needs of real people as outlined in their main Street Contract. You can learn more about what the nurses are working on at their website: National Nurses United.