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Fix Economy and Cut Deficit with Jobs, Healthcare for All

Following the adjournment of the President’s Deficit Commission, National Nurses United, the nation’s largest professional nurses’ union, called on Congress to fully scrap the deeply flawed recommendations of the panel’s co-chairs, and move forward with the urgent actions that will protect America’s nurses and working families.Such a plan would start with a new economic program to put people back to work, a point made more pressing by today’s latest disastrous employment numbers, extending benefits for the unemployed which puts immediate money into the economy, and genuinely cutting healthcare costs, by expanding Medicare to cover all Americans.“We need a plan for everyone, not just Wall Street, the banks, and their champions in Washington who seem to dominate the political debate,” said Deborah Burger, RN, co-chair of the 160,000-member NNU. “Congress and the White House should stop focusing on the agenda of Wall Street and financiers which mischaracterizes causes of the deficit – the Bush tax cuts, the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the downturn in the economy – and advance the programs Americans need, such as stimulus spending.”“Nurses know that the ongoing explosion in healthcare costs is also a major source of the federal deficit, and the insecurity faced by millions of American families and patients,” said Burger. She noted a Los Angeles Times report today showing that costs of employer-sponsored health insurance has ballooned nearly 34 percent the past six years nationally, far surpassing income for most families.“Yet the health plan passed by Congress does little to solve this problem. The most effective way to control health costs is by expanding Medicare to cover all Americans and employ the tested methods of bulk purchasing of prescription drugs and global budgeting for hospital services. Already Medicare costs far less than the profit-driven private system, and universal Medicare would achieve even greater cost control,” said Burger.“The real reason other developed nations spend so much less on healthcare is because they don’t protect the wealth of insurance companies over the welfare of patients, and they have single-payer, Medicare-for-all-type systems in place.”“Congress would also show the leadership the American people need by extending jobless benefits, which puts money into the economy, creating jobs, and holding the line on tax cuts for middle- and low-income families, not the wealthiest who need it the least,” she said.Burger said nurses are pleased the unwarranted effort of the deficit committee to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits failed to get the needed votes. “Americans need more retirement security, especially in an economic crisis, not less.”

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