Nurses Warn Washington Risking Lives if Cuts Made to Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid
July 22, 2011
Call on Congress to Just Say No
RNs Have Pledged Not to Endorse Candidates Who Cut Social Security
The nation’s leading voice of registered nurses today called on the White House and Congress to “Just Say No” to any cuts in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that they warned could “literally mean the difference between life and death for countless numbers of Americans.”
“We are appalled that this President and some in Congress are considering abandoning those most in need in our nation, and placing further hardship on Americans who have already suffered far too much in the present devastating recession,” said Karen Higgins, RN, co-president of the 170,000 member National Nurses United.
For two weeks nurses across the U.S. have been bombarding members of the Senate with calls demanding they hold the line and oppose cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in the negotiations over the debt ceiling debate.
RNs have also held a number of street protests, including major protests in June in Washington D.C. outside the Chamber of Commerce and in New York on Wall Street, as well as smaller protests, including Thursday when 100 RNs rallied in Orange County, California.
NNU is calling for a change in national priorities that includes taxing major Wall Street trades on derivatives and other speculation, and making corporations, more than a majority of them which evaded taxes for a year or more the past decade, pay their fair share in taxes to raise funds to create jobs, and fund healthcare, education, housing, and other basic needs.
Earlier this year, NNU also announced that it will not endorse federal candidates who vote or act to cut Social Security.
Reports out this week make it clear how many people who count on Medicare and Social Security are already under water.
A report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, picked up by the Washington Post noted this week that nearly half of Medicare recipients have incomes at or below 200 percent of poverty, and are already spending nearly a fourth of their budgets on health care.
As to Social Security, there was this news from the Economic Policy Institute yesterday: for the poorest 40 percent of 65-and-older households, Social Security payouts constitute more than four-fifths of total income.
“We already see patients making painful choices between medications they’ve been prescriptions and other medical bills and their rent or house payments or food for their families. Further cuts could endanger these patients and their families. The proposals we are hearing are disgraceful,” Higgins said.
NNU has an alternative. As part of its Main Street Contract for the American People, the organization is calling for a Wall Street financial transaction tax. The modest financial tax would raise hundreds of billions of dollars that can be used to reinvest in America. Details at www.mainstreetcontract.org.