President Barack Obama speaks to a joint sessi...

Obama Speaks to Congress on Health Care/Image via Wikipedia

An estimated 60% of American bankruptcies result from overwhelming medical costs. My uncle’s tale illuminates the dual tragedy of suffering catastrophic illness and being uninsured.

Read the rest of this troubling post at The Health Care Blog by surgeon John Maa if you doubt that we need health care reform in this country.

A measure of how unserious we are about fixing the problem of health care quality and costs in the U.S. can be found in reports that Don Berwick, President Obama’s choice to run the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), continues to have an uphill battle for confirmation, despite being widely acknowledged within the medical community as the best choice for the challenging job.

Since we’re talking policy, there’s an incisive post at the Health Affairs Blog on where our energies should—and should not—be going in controlling costs. Here’s an excerpt:

The current cry to reduce Federal deficits and debt growth by reducing Medicare and Medicaid entitlements is totally missing the key issue: the need to moderate all health care inflation. This should be the time for a national debate on how to best tackle the underlying cost problem, for the sake of our future, the economy, and access to health care.

The June 13-19, 2009 Economist editorialized: “America has the most wasteful [health] system on the planet. Its fiscal future would be transformed if Congress passed reforms that emphasized control of costs as much as the expansion of coverage that Barack Obama rightly wants.”

Why should any of this matter to nurses? Here’s a post reminding us why nurses have a stake in health care reform

But back to nursing proper, nursing in the trenches, nursing not in the abstract but in its inescapable dailiness. A short post from Not Nurse Ratched, called “Moving Past Competency to Comfort,” speaks for itself about the anxiety of doing a job in which lives are at stake. Here’s an excerpt:

Last night I talked to my triage tech during the 10 or so minutes we didn’t have patients in the waiting room. The conversation made me want to fall to my knees in gratitude that I’m not in nursing school anymore, and lately in general I’ve been noticing I must have morphed through one of Patricia Benner’s stages (I guess competent to proficient, although to me it’s competence to comfort).

A nice feeling, in any profession!—JM, senior editor

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