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July 12, 2017 | NLN CEO Update on Senate Health Care Bill

NLN Member Update July 2017
header 'XX, Issue Number 12'

July 12, 2017
bevphoto Dear Colleagues,,


Consider the 55-year-old with diabetes, poor vision, and a severed foot who earns $13,000 per year at her part-time job, or the writer with a genetic condition who can’t breathe without a ventilator and relies on Medicaid personal care services to remain at his family home. Their stories, and the stories of many others who live in fear of losing coverage, are everywhere. Americans across the country who will be hurt if the Senate passes the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) of 2017 are speaking out. The 22 million people who will lose coverage include 15 million — the poorest and most vulnerable among us — who are currently covered by Medicaid, which the bill would cut by about $772 billion over 10 years.

If the NLN is to abide by our core values — caring, integrity, diversity, and excellence — and fulfill our mission to advance the health of the nation, we cannot support the Senate or the House health care bills. (The House’s bill is the American Health Care Act, AHCA.) As the voice for nursing education, it is imperative that we speak out on the negative health effects these bills would have on all communities. Both bills will have a devastating impact on those most in need — seniors, children, the disabled, people hard hit by the opioid crisis, pregnant women and new mothers, and the working poor.

Our NLN values are challenged by both the House and Senate bills. The voice of the NLN must be heard as advocates for the people we serve; the students we teach; and the faculty and staff who prepare new generations of providers, frequently with inadequate resources. Though there are many examples of how BCRA infringes on the NLN’s core values. I’d like to share just a few:

The NLN’s definition of caring quite clearly points out the inadequacy of the two bills with the removal of millions from essential health care coverage: “A culture of caring, as a fundamental part of the nursing profession, characterizes our concern and consideration for the whole person, our commitment to the common good, and our outreach to those who are vulnerable.”

The extreme lack of transparency in the writing of the bill — keeping the process secret even from members of their own caucus — and the failure to hear testimony from experts in health care policy denigrate honor, truth, and reliability, many of the components of integrity. In addition, the BCRA and AHCA press their most profound effects years into the future — in this case, severely constricting the main source of public health insurance for poor and vulnerable Americans. The legislation would squeeze federal Medicaid spending by 35 percent by the end of two decades, compared with current law.

BCRA and AHCA are a tragedy for all communities, but more so in the area of diversity, for women and people of color who are already disproportionately affected by poor access to health care.

And finally excellence, representing the summation of the other three values. The NLN characterizes excellence as “reflecting a commitment to continuous growth, improvement, and understanding.” The Better Care Reconciliation Act and the American Health Care Act clearly negate that charge.

Please join the NLN in reminding our senators and others that fundamental to the nursing profession is the principle that all individuals have equitable access to comprehensive health and wellness care across the lifespan of patients and caregivers. Information about contacting your senators is available from the NLN Advocacy Action Center, along with information about other legislation important for the future of nursing education. Colleagues, we are leaders with strength and humility who serve our communities. It is time to be heard. It is always time to be caring. The time to take action is now.

All the best,

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Beverly Malone, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Executive Officer

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