Health Care Reform Discussion Raises Vital Patient Care Issues

April 2009

Nurses union officer advocates for comprehensive health care reform to address
health care quality issues, improve access to patient care
and meet the ongoing demand for nurses

Sacramento, CA – Barbara Blake, RN, state secretary for the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP), joined leaders and stakeholders from medical organizations, health employee unions, business owners, public service organizations and state representatives in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 14, for a National Coalition on Health Care forum on “National Health Care Reform and Its Potential Impacts in California.”

Participants discussed the urgent problems in health care, the increasingly intense debate about options for national health care reform, and the potential impacts of national reform in the state of California. Blake advocated for comprehensive health care reform as a way to reduce rising health care costs, improve patient care, expand health care access for all and tackle the ongoing nursing shortage.

“As a Registered Nurse for more than 32 years, I can say with confidence that no one understands the need for real health care reform better than the nurse,” stated Blake. “As health care costs have skyrocketed and fewer people have had access to coverage, nurses have seen patients who chose to delay getting care until their illness or injury could no longer be ignored. Nurses have seen that, when patients lack access to quality care, we all pay – one way or another.”

Blake recommended several options to improving the current health care crisis. One of the first steps is to manage the nursing shortage, stating the need to make faculty positions in nursing institutions more attractive to increase the number of faculty available to train new nurses. Nurses also need to have a seat at the health care reform discussion table because they serve as the frontline of patient care.

Blake added that an effective cost control mechanism would be to build upon what works in our existing system and create a new model that expands coverage for all, improves the quality of care and constrains the current escalation of health care costs.

“A key way to help reduce cost will be the creation of a public health insurance option for the American people,” said Blake. “Such a program would promote competition and be a catalyst for innovation that would improve health care quality and lower costs by taking advantage of the administrative efficiencies we currently encounter in the provision of Medicare and Medicaid.”

# # #