NEW YORK NURSE: January 2008
by Joely Johnson
New York State spends more per person on health care than any other state in the nation. Despite this high level of spending, recent studies rank New York State as average or worse on important quality indicators.
Responding to the need for change, in August 2007 Governor Eliot Spitzer called for plans to achieve affordable universal health insurance for New Yorkers. In the fall, the public was invited to testify before the departments of Health and Insurance at hearings around the state.
“These hearings were held to allow all New Yorkers, including nurses, to provide input and testimony for achieving healthcare reform and affordable universal coverage,” said Jeffrey Hammond, New York State Department of Health spokesman. NYSNA president-elect Karen Ballard testified on behalf of the association at the Manhattan hearing.
Ballard presented strong testimony from the nursing perspective. She highlighted the negative impact that a lack of or limited insurance can have. In particular, Ballard noted that uninsured or underinsured people tend to rely on emergency services and show up sicker when they do seek out care. “New Yorkers living within this flawed system are at risk,” she said.
Two other active members, Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez and Ann Bové, also testified that day. Sheridan-Gonzalez is president of the LBU at Montefiore’s Moses Division; she spoke on behalf of that group. Bové spoke for District 13; she is president of the local bargaining unit at Bellevue. Bové is also on the board of the Commission for the Public’s Health System.
In their testimonies, the nurses shared anecdotes about patients and colleagues who have had trouble with insurance coverage. “Putting a personal touch in the message makes it very real to the people you are testifying before,” said Ballard.
Jan Howard testified at a hearing that was held in Rochester. A member of the Retired Nurses Functional Practice Group and legislative chair for District 1, Howard is passionate about the need for universal health insurance. “Nurses have inside knowledge of how to navigate the healthcare system, and even we have difficulty getting necessary care,” said Howard. In today’s political and economic climate, she said, “even if you have insurance, it’s not enough.”
According to the testimony developed by NYSNA, the association believes a reformed system should:
You can read the full testimony text at www.nysna.org; click on “Legislative Advocacy” and look for the link to testimonies/reports.