"Nothing is good if better is possible" - a report from the conference of the California Nurses Association


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Summary

The California Nurses Association annual conference was held in Sacramento on 10-12 September. Angela Gorman, an NHS nurse and Keep Our NHS Public activist was invited to take part in a panel discussion with representatives and campaigners from other "socialised" health services. In her report Angela writes of the thousands of US citizens who die each year for want of adequate health care. Included in these numbers are many who America rightly considers heroes (for their work in the wake of the 9/11 attacks for example). Some are featured in Michael Moore's new film "SICKO" which opens in the UK on 26 October.                 .

A demonstration outside the Capital Building to mark a debate by legislators followed a film about the history of the CNA's campaigning activities in favour of universal healthcare. A workshop on partnership working provoked discussion about the unions working with the insurance companies as "poacher turned gamekeeper". The panel discussion saw the speakers (also including a nurse from Canada and another from Australia) describing the benefits to patients and staff of the respective health systems. They then addressed the question of why America should move to a similar system. While arguments were made by the panel about the humanitarian responsibilities of society, the high cost of the US healthcare system compared to other countries was used to persuade sceptics about the merits of a co-operative health service.

The key points raised by the conference:
  • Thousands die each year because they have no access to healthcare.
  • Many more are under insured and only discover this when it is too late.
  • Insurance companies' administration costs amount to 40% of the total outlay.
  • Elderly patients are made homeless because they cannot meet the healthcare costs.
  • 47 million do not have health insurance.
  • 50% of bankruptcies (which are currently on the increase) are caused by mounting healthcare costs.

 

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