Sunday, June 25, 2017

Healthcare is an unalienable right

There is currently a fight in our country over the future of healthcare.
At it's core is one fundamental question.

Is Healthcare a right of all our people?

I gave my opinion a few weeks ago on what I felt our ethical obligation is, in  "Healthcare is a Right." Today, let me address what I feel our founding fathers were saying when they penned these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

What is the meaning of these words, words that led us to seek independence, words that summarize our reason for doing so.

What is a right, and is healthcare for all one of them?

In the Declaration of Independence, our founding fathers declared that certain rights came from our Higher Power and could not be questioned or restricted by any earthly power. 

Our founding fathers declared that the right to life and the pursuit of happiness were such fundamental rights.

What could be more tied to the rights of life and happiness than quality, affordable healthcare?
Certainly, the right to life and happiness are restricted if access to quality, affordable healthcare is denied to a group of citizens, be they the poor, the elderly, or the otherwise marginalized.

Our founding fathers also declared that the right to liberty was a fundamental right.
Certainly, the right to liberty is restricted if a citizen cannot speak freely in the workplace for fear that loss of employment also means loss of quality, affordable healthcare.

You see, the right to quality, affordable healthcare, independent of employment, is closely tied to the rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Quality, affordable healthcare is something that could be available to every citizen of our country. We have the science, the technology, and the infrastructure to make that happen.
Since it is possible, and since denial of such available healthcare to any one person or group of persons is intimately tied to their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, then I believe it follows that denial of quality affordable healthcare is a violation of fundamental, unalienable rights.

Healthcare is a right.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Becoming engaged is not difficult

When the Irish came to this country by the millions, fleeing famine and an oppressive government, they were met with signs that said, "No Irish need apply."
The only jobs they could get were the dirtiest and the most dangerous. So dangerous that many men died, leaving widows and children behind.
I'm sure they complained about the injustice, but they did more, they realized they lacked money and political power, but they did have people, and they were growing in numbers, so they organized.
They took over the cities by electing their leaders, they took over the workplaces by organizing their workers. They demanded a government that worked for them and a workplace with basic safety.

It is common today to complain.
I get that.
It's also common to think we cannot not make a difference.
I get that too.
But it's untrue.
The United States has a history of people joining together, becoming engaged, and making a difference.The Revolutionary War, the takeover of the cities by the Irish, the Civil Rights Movement, and on and on.
It is our culture.
WE THE PEOPLE need to return to it.

We need to get informed, get involved and change things.
When there is injustice in our government, we need to support candidates who believe as we do.
We need to run for public office ourselves.
When there is injustice in the workplace, we need to join in unity with our coworkers and speak with one voice.

Complain yes, but don't let it end there. That's what those in power want. They want you to complain about Trump, Obama, Hillary, the democrats, the republicans, etc.
What they don't want you to do is become engaged.

Right now, there are a few steps you can take to start.  They aren't hard. Pick one.

The is a bill on the desk of the Governor of Connecticut, HB 7174.
It would take a role that has been  done by licensed health care professionals, nurses, paramedics, CAT scan techs and others, and allow non-licensed, non-trained personnel to perform it, the flushing of an IV line with Normal Saline.
It's a patient safety issue and CT state Rep Peter Tercyak had it right when he said on the floor of the house that if this was a bill concerning a predominately male profession, it would never pass.
Please take a moment and send the governor a short note asking him to Veto this bill. You can follow this link.

Right now, in the United States Senate, 13 men are meeting behind closed doors to decide the future of health care coverage in this country.  It is expected that they will soon emerge and present a bill to the Senate, limit debate to 24 hours, and call for a vote.
It is expected to be similar to the ACHA recently passed by the house and it is expected to become law.
Please email your senator and complain that this should be an open discussion with public hearings.  Let them know that like most Americans, you do not believe taking health care away from 23 million Americans is a good idea, that taking health care away from 18-26 years olds is a good idea, that taking health care away from 50-65 year olds is a good idea, that taking health care away from those with preexisting conditions is a good idea.
Please do it now!

The Connecticut State Legislature ended the regular session without a budget agreement.  That means that they will be soon called back into session to complete this work.  The question is, will the rich benefit at the hands of the middle class and poor?  Please write your legislator and tell them not to cut vital services.  Tell them to enact a budget in which everyone does their share, not just the middle class and poor. Tell them to reject an austerity budget and ask the rich to share the sacrifice.
You can follow this link to do so.

Take one small step, please.
That's how it starts and it's not hard.
But it is important.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A government of the people

I'm exhausted.

2 weeks ago, we spent spent several days in Washington, DC with about 50 AFT CT Healthcare and Public Employee members at our joint Professional Issues Conference.
We attended classes germane to our professions and our unionism.
For many, it was their first PIC and when people see they are a part of something bigger than their department, building, or state, when they see, hear, and learn from colleagues across the country, they return fired up to do even more for their patients, students, and communities they serve.

This week was the last week of the Connecticut Legislative session and we needed that fire.
It meant late nights at the capital, frantic text and last minute meetings with legislators, and calls at 1:00 in the morning from our dedicated lobbyists.
Nightly, we had members go to the capital after work and speak to their senators and representatives.
Wednesday night I counted members from 8 locals, and have a picture of some of them speaking to 3 state reps who are current or retired AFT CT members.
Wednesday night we huddled around the TV counting down till the final gavel at midnight, the deadline for business, hoping no onerous bills would slip through.
The bill that our healthcare members fraught so hard against, HB 7174, the Saline Flush bill looked dead and came back to life so many times we may have to rename it the Lazarus bill.
In the last hour it passed the senate and will go to the governor to be signed.  We will continue our efforts and ask the governor to consider a veto. Failing that, we will seek to amend it next year.

This was particularly disappointing to me.  So many of our healthcare members, who understand this bill, invested so much of themselves to help legislators understand their concerns. I have been replaying our efforts and wondering if we could have done something different, and thus achieved a different outcome. I take solace in the fact that this is a less harmful bill than it started out as being, all though our member's efforts.
Mostly, I know that this was an effort our healthcare workers believed we needed to invest in. they became engaged in the legislative process, some of them for the first time, and while we did not achieve all we felt we needed, we did achieve some, and our patients will be better for our efforts.
And.....we are not done.

The legislative process is not always pretty. But as we often say, if we're not at the table, we're on the menu.
There will be a special session this summer, to approve a state budget. I am sure we will again face conservative calls to gut collective bargaining. Our members will fight back for working families.
We have friends in the legislature who believe as we do, that government should work for regular people, not the elite.  But we have enemies also.  Elections have consequences, and it starts with engaged members and the public.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

HB 7174 This is what democracy looks like

My blog this weekend is more a call to action than a blog.
A bill which passed the Connecticut house last night (HB 7174) would allow IV lines (and the medication in those lines) to be flushed by unlicensed people, who lack the training of a Nurse.
As a nurse, I am concerned about the effect of this bill on my patient's safety. As an elected leader, I am hearing from healthcare members, both nurses and non nurses, that they are similarly concerned. I ask you to reach out to the members of the Connecticut State Senate and help us protect our patients. 
Urge them to vote NO is this comes to the state senate floor.
You can use this link:

You can click here to see the bill. The important part is section 2, (3b)

Thanks and don't stop there. Whatever state you live in, there is probably a similar way to contact your legislators.
It makes a difference.
As they say, if you're not at the table, you're on the menu.