Nurse Roundup July 2, 2014

July 2, 2014


Critical Month for Healthcare Law

This summer has brought many surprises already.  While the shocking defeat of Congressman Eric Cantor — who led 50 votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, supported Medicaid block grants and wanted to turn Medicare into a voucher system — may seem like good news, we should be worried that even that track record isn’t extreme enough for his Tea Party successor.  It just reminds me how much is at stake in the 2014 elections for the Affordable Care Act.

A divided Supreme Court issued a decision in the Hobby Lobby case that is bad for women’s health, bad for working families and bad for basic workplace protections. It came down just minutes after the Harris v Quinn ruling, another closely divided ruling by the conservative wing of the Court that upheld collective bargaining rights for Illinois home care workers but also said that individuals, could reap the benefits of collective bargaining without paying a “fair share” fee.

The Hobby Lobby ruling stripped away the right of millions of working women and their families to make their personal healthcare decisions in consultation with their healthcare providers — not their bosses.   SEIU President Mary Kay Henry immediately issued a statement warning that this decision -which Justice Ginsberg called “startling” in its breadth — could harm not only women but all workers. As nurses, we’ve advocated for decades for our patients, and we will continue this fight.

We have a lot of work to do, but I can’t imagine better colleagues with whom to be in this fight!

In this issue we also highlight:

  • US Labor Secretary Perez Meets SEIU Nurses in Pittsburgh;
  • Nurses Visit White House and Weigh in on Immigration  Reform; and
  • Polls Show Support for Healthcare Law.


In Solidarity,

Dian Palmer, RN
Chair, Nurse Alliance of SEIU Healthcare

News From The States

California, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

Nurses Joined President Obama at the White House to Discuss Immigration

On Monday, June 9, President Obama met with nurses from across the country in the Oval Office, to discuss common sense immigration reform. The President underscored his commitment to passing reforms and highlighted the importance of this issue to nurses and medical professionals.

SEIU was represented by Janielle Alana Bennett, Care Pavillion , Folcroft, PA; Patricia Noemi Lopez, Riverside Community Hospital, Riverside, CA; Mary Malaney, Meriter Hospital, Madison, WI; Lejla Sivonjich, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA; Alvin Nadal Vitug, Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Simi Valley, CA; and Eva Zavatti, St. Mary’s Hospital in West Palm Beach, Hobe Sound, FL. These SEIU nurses shared their own immigration stories and their experiences with workers and their families from the frontlines of care.


LETTERS: SEIU-member nurses key great care

SEIU member Michael Collins sets the record straight in a letter published in the Las Vegas Sun Journal.

To the editor:

Richard Berman, a Washington, D.C., lobbyist for special interests and large corporations, recently wrote a commentary in which he offered a dangerous misdiagnosis of what’s ailing American hospitals (“Congress must curb SEIU’s health care imposition,” June 5 Review-Journal). As a nurse for 30 years who has spent my career making patients my priority, I would like to share my perspective on why the united voices of nurses and other health care providers make an enormously positive difference for patients.

To read the full letter, click here:


US Labor Secretary Perez Meets with SEIU Nurses in Pittsburgh

US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez traveled to Pittsburgh on June 11 to meet with frontline nurses at Allegheny General Hospital and recognize their collaborative work with hospital administrators as a national model of innovation for improving patient care and satisfaction while reducing costs.

“One of the best way to change the culture at AGH is to involve as many nurses as possible in studying a process, seeing its successes and flaws and leading the way to help fix it,” said AGH Chapter President Cathy Stoddart, RN. “Our work has been made possible because we as union nurses have the ability to have a significant voice on the job and the ability to foster strong, collaborative relationships with hospital administrators through our union.”

RNs have been working with management at AGH since 2003 to create unit-based Patient Care Committees and a hospital-wide Nurse Collaboration Council allowing nurses and management to think through issues together to make the hospital run more smoothly. Through these, nurses and management launched a variety of initiatives to improve quality and contain costs.

Read more:


SEIU Nurse Named Citizen of the Day

Vanessa Patricelli, a SEIU 1199NW member, was named Washington State Citizen of the Day by Governor Jay Inslee for her work for her work reaching out and educating those in her community about the expansion of Medicaid and about the new healthcare law.

Patricelli is a 31-year-old registered nurse who works at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. Back in November, she took two weeks off from her job to work full time promoting the new healthcare law.

In addition to setting up information tables at her hospital and talking to people on the street, Patricelli and her fellow SEIU 1199NW members spent time visiting small business owners in the Seattle area. They let them know how they could guide their employees to some of the lower-cost or even free healthcare plans that were starting Jan. 1.

Read the full post here:

News Nurses Need

Uninsured rate holds at record low in survey

The ratio of those without health insurance has fallen dramatically since last year but held steady at a new low of 13.4 percent for May and April, according to a poll.

A Gallup survey published Thursday shows the uninsured in the U.S. dropped from 17.4 percent in the last quarter of 2013, when launched, to 15.6 percent in the first quarter of this year, before eventually landing at 13.4 percent.

“The uninsured rate for U.S. adults appears to be leveling off since the open enrollment period for buying health insurance coverage through the marketplace ended in mid-April,” said Gallup. “Across nearly every major subgroup, the uninsured rate is lower now compared with the fourth quarter of 2013.”


Read the full article in the Hill:

Parkland’s Unique Wage Plan Spurs Employee Pay Discussion

At a meeting of the board, Parkland Health and Hospital System decided to raise the wages of their minimum wage employees with funds from an executive bonus pool.  This decision created a great deal of discussion.  Read an excerpt of the article below:

What makes the Parkland situation “unusual,” according to Reich, is how the wage hike is being funded. The cost of the new wages for low-income earners will be covered from an executive incentive pool, said Jim Dunn, Parkland’s executive vice president and chief talent officer. And this is not a one-time event. Dunn said the new $10.25-per-hour rate will become system policy going forward, even if Parkland doesn’t have executive incentives to cover the costs.

It sounds like a bold initiative for a safety net health system that nearly had its Medicare and Medicaid funding revoked, lost more than $450 million from operations in 2013, and is wrapping up construction of a new $1.3 billion hospital.

“If there is a year that Parkland does not have (incentives), Parkland will find a way to fund the increase through other efficiencies,” Dunn said. “We anticipate this will be very sustainable, post the move into the new hospital.”

“Our entry-level positions are just as valuable as our executives,” he added.

Click here to read the full article at Modern Healthcare:

Countdown to Coverage

Bloomberg News Poll: People Don’t Want Repeal

The Washington Post provides an analysis of the new  Bloomberg News poll and finds that it will pose an additional problem to those who simply refuse to accept the reality that, while disapproval of the law remains high, the American people still want to stick with it:

What is your opinion of the health care law?
It should be repealed: 32
It may need small modifications, but we should see how it works: 56
It should be left alone: 10

So 66 percent support giving the law a chance to work with possible small modifications or leaving it alone, versus only 32 percent who want it done away with. This seems like fair wording.

To read the full story at the Washington Post:

See the Bloomberg News poll:

For Women Just Out Of Jail, Health Care Could Be Key To Better Life

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Department is implementing a new city law allowing its staff to enroll inmates into health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi believes that making sure people have health coverage when they’re released will help prevent them from committing another crime and coming back.


Read the full article in Kaiser Health News:

Report: Medicaid expansion would help thousands of uninsured veterans

The chief executive of the Kansas Hospital Association, Tom Bell, penned an opinion piece highlighting the negative impact that the refusal to expand Medicaid is having on veterans and their families.  Below is an excerpt from Bell’s opinion piece:

But for many, a local access point is problematic. One in 10 of the nation’s nonelderly veterans has no health insurance and does not use VA services — that’s 1.3 million veterans. Nearly 950,000 of their family members also lack coverage. That’s because nearly half of uninsured veterans have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level — $26,951 for a family of three. At this level, veterans would be eligible for coverage under Medicaid as states expand their programs. In fact, if all states would expand Medicaid, nearly half of the nation’s uninsured veterans would have access to affordable health coverage.

For states like Kansas, that have rejected Medicaid expansion for the last two years, the situation is unfortunate. Kansas has 15,000 veterans and 10,000 family members without health insurance. Using the national percentage of 48.8 percent of veterans with incomes below the poverty level, the estimated number of Kansas veterans and family members who would be eligible for Medicaid coverage under expansion would be 12,200.

To read the full opinion piece click here:

To read the article about the release in the Kansas Health Institute click here:

To read the Urban Institute Report click here:

What We’re Reading

The App-Based Healthcare of the Future

At the Northside Festival in Brooklyn on Thursday (6/12/14), a small panel convened to discuss the ways our data-driven tech scene can work to the advantage of every patient in health care–but hasn’t. Called “Empowering the Most Important Caregiver: The Patient,” members included Chris Bradley, CEO of Mana Health, Mario Schlosser of health insurance startup Oscar, Rachel Winokur of Aetna’s tech services division Healthagen, and Paul Wilder of The NY eHealth Collaborative.

“All of this data is being generated in healthcare,” said Chris Bradley, “but it’s not helping the people who need it most.”

Recent announcements from companies like Apple suggest that the next big push in tech is going to be for our health.


To see the full article click here:

‘Bionic Pancreas’ Works for 5 Days in Outpatient Settings

Progress toward the development of a closed-loop “artificial pancreas” has hit a new milestone, improving blood glucose levels in adults and teenagers with type 1 diabetes for 5 days straight in real-world settings.

The findings, from 2 separate studies of 20 adults and 32 adolescents, respectively, were presented here at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 2014 Scientific Sessions by Steven J. Russell, MD, PhD, of the diabetes unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. The study results were also simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Read the full article at Medscape:

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