Sunday, November 12, 2006

How Do We Get Healthcare For All?

November 2, 2004 I was driving home from Phoenix, Arizona. I had just finished 2 days helping with Election Protection; informing Arizonans about their polling places and then observing at polling places on election day.

On the eve of the election, the Election Protection people informed those of us voluteering in Phoenix that there might be other observers at the polling places. Arizonans were voting that year on a proposition (Prop. 200) that would require all residents of the state to prove they were citizens before they could receive any public services or vote. Certain pro-Prop. 200 citizens, we were warned, might be standing at the ready with their hand guns visible (as is legal in Arizona) observing (and possibly scaring away) those who were coming to the polling places to vote.

Prop 200 passed by 56%.

And the scaring away had just begun.

From a healthcare perspective, causing anyone to be afraid to seek care is disasterous. Nurses of all political persuasions ought to stand strong advocating for patients, all patients, to get the medical care they need.

An undocumented immigrant from Mexico working in Phoenix told a San Francisco Chronicle reporter that "it had not even occurred to him to apply for welfare or other benefits for himself, but he knows his 2-year-old son is eligible for medical care because the toddler was born in the United States. Now however, [he] and his wife are nervous about taking the boy to doctor's appointments for fear someone will report them to immigration authorities." ( Not getting the care the child deserves leaves him open to illnesses and suffering he shouldn't have to go through as well as causes him to be a potential victim of diseases easily spread to other children.

Not protecting one makes us all vulnerable.

In border towns that have a daily influx and outflow of workers from Mexico, those who live on the Mexican side of the line cannot be treated even for active tuberculosis since public health workers may not treat non-citizens. These towns just have to live with the epidemics that modern healthcare and common sense could easily wipe out.

Again not protecting one makes us all vulnerable.

November 7th blew a wind of relief and fresh hope across America. A new direction in politics will also mean a new direction in Healthcare Reform. Where the Reform has to end up is Healthcare for All.

In 2003, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan first introduced HR 676, the United States National Health Insurance Act. Under HR 676, Medicare would be extended and improved so that all individuals residing in the United States would receive high quality and affordable health care services. They would receive all medically necessary services by the physicians of their choice, with no restrictions on what providers they could visit. If implemented, the United States National Health Insurance Act would cover primary care, dental, mental health, prescription drugs, and long term care. (

This is the kind of program worthy of the United States of America.

Call or write your Senators and Representatives to tell them to make this bill Law now.