Statement by Karen Higgins, RN, Co-President NNU
Capitol Hill Press Conference 02-29-12
Registered Nurse and NNU Co-President, Karen Higgins spoke at a Washington press conference opposing an amendment by Sen. Roy Blunt that would permit any employer or insurance plan to exclude any health service, no matter how essential, from coverage if they morally object to it. Her statement is below.
Thank you distinguished Senators, members of the press, and my professional colleagues, I am Karen Higgins, co-President of National Nurses United, the largest organization of direct care, bedside Registered Nurses in the US.
As a Registered Nurse for  years, I have seen the struggles of patients, particularly women, to access the care they need. Skyrocketing out of pocket costs, restrictions on network providers, and coverage limitations can keep my patients from receiving treatment in a timely fashion, ultimately compromising their health and costing all of us dearly.
This is wrong. And if the amendment proposed by Senator Blunt passes, access to care will be made elusive, not only for women, but for many of my patients.
National Nurses United, and Registered Nurses generally in the United States, believes that women, regardless of where they work, should have access to health insurance that covers preventive health care, including birth control, with no co-pays.
Nurses enact the values of caring and compassion everyday at the bedside and in clinics in every community. The Blunt proposal undermines these values when it allows any business, corporation or insurance company to deny any essential health care service they object to, including coverage for birth control.
And it goes far beyond contraception. The Blunt proposal creates a giant loophole that would permit any employer to restrict coverage for any health service under the fig leaf of a moral objection. At a time when more and more employers are already reducing covered services, this proposal is an open invitation to abuse.
Healthcare is a human right and should not be subject to employers and insurance companies’ control over what health-care decisions their employees can make. The Blunt proposal undermines the basic notion of health insurance: care should be provided based on patient need as determined by the clinical judgment of health care providers.
National Nurses United opposes the Blunt amendment. In our health system, patients thrive when we let doctors and nurses make healthcare decisions with their patients, without interference from employers and insurance company bureaucrats. Thank you to these Senators and others for standing up for the rights of providers and patients to make our own healthcare decisions.
Senate defeats bill to reverse birth control rule
By LAURIE KELLMAN, Thursday, March 1, 9:10 AM
AP WASHINGTON — The Senate has defeated a Republican effort to roll back President Barack Obama’s policy on contraception insurance coverage.
The measure sponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, was defeated 51-48. The measure, an amendment to a pending transportation bill, would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the president’s health care law they found morally objectionable. That would have included the law’s requirement that insurers cover the costs of birth control.
Republicans said it was a matter of freedom of religion; Democrats said it was an assault on women’s rights and could be used to cancel virtually any part of the law.