On Lobbyists, Lotteries, Nurses, and Health Care Reform

By Peggy McDaniel, BSN, RN

I read the recent post on this blog about lobbyists and reform. Does this situation bother anyone else but me? Kaiser Health News reports that $422 million was spent from January to September of this year on lobbyists. Numerous groups—in fact, over 1,000—have put money towards shaping the legislation focused on health care reform. A great deal of money is also being spent to mold the messages you hear about the health care bills. 

by pinkmoose, via Flickr (creative commons)

It’s intriguing to note the different groups trying to influence the process, from Catholic bishops to big pharma. All want to have a stake in the outcome—some from a financial perspective, some from a moral stance. As nurses, we should have something to say about health care and insurance reform. Theresa Brown, one of my favorite bloggers, recently wrote that our current system is like a “lottery”—and used a very dark story to make her point. 

I happen to agree with her: our current market-based system works, until it doesn’t.

I have been at the bedside of patients who came up with the short straw, as I have previously shared here.     

Another post noted that domestic violence is considered a “pre-existing condition” and can be used to deny coverage. Our present health care system is unacceptable, but what can we do about it?  Rules preventing paid lobbyists from playing dominant roles in shaping legislation would be a good starting point.

A recent article in the Washington Post revealed that paid lobbyists will be banned by the Obama administration from holding seats on federal advisory panels. This was announced without fanfare but is an exciting step in the right direction. When people are paid to have a point of view and are also influencing government policy it is nothing less than corrupt. That said, lobbying as a concerned citizen for what you believe in and what you want to see happen in our government is not only a right, it’s a responsibility. Let’s promote an agenda that we can stand behind as individuals and as nurses.

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.

Comments are moderated before approval, but always welcome.

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