Press Release

Nurses support Schumer call for vote on Biden’s Build Back Better bill; urge Sen. Manchin to rescind opposition and vote ‘Yes’

Senator Joe Machin
Senator Joe Machin - Image by Third Way Think Tank via Flickr

National Nurses United (NNU) today endorsed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s announcement that he will hold a vote early next year on President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation to help families across America.

NNU, which represents West Virginia registered nurses, among its 175,000 members nationally, also urged Sen. Joe Manchin to reverse his opposition to the bill, which they said is critical for many West Virginians struggling with economic and health care crises.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have witnessed our communities in dire need of investments in health care, childcare, elder care, job creation, climate change mitigation, and other critical needs addressed by this essential bill,” said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. “We stand with Sen. Schumer in putting all 100 Senators on record on where they stand with our families and communities.”

“As a registered nurse and a working mom, I spend long hours caring for my patients in the hospital,” said Christle Young, a West Virginia intensive care unit RN. “Over the past 20 months of the pandemic, I have seen firsthand the devastating impact of the pandemic on the livelihood, health, and security of my patients, their families, and their neighbors.”

“The dramatic improvements in this legislation will make an immediate positive impact on the quality of their lives, their health, their economic security, and their future. We urge our Senator, Joe Manchin, to take a stand with us for all West Virginians,” Young added.

Few states face greater emergency on issues that would be addressed by the Build Back Better bill, especially households headed by women, notes NNU.

  • Mothers are the sole, primary, or co-breadwinners in 63.8 percent of West Virginia families. Nearly 44 percent of those female-headed households live in poverty.
  • West Virginia's child poverty rate in 2019 was 19.6 percent, with 67,507 children living in poverty. West Virginia had the 6th highest child poverty rate among the 50 states.
  • West Virginia is the second-poorest U.S. state, with a $48,850 median household income and a poverty rate of just over 17 percent.
  • More than one in 10 West Virginia adults had diabetes, 15 percent, the second highest rate in the nation.
  • West Virginians have the lowest life expectancy in the nation.
  • One-fourth of West Virginia adults in 2017 reported rationing or skipping needed medications due to cost.
  • As of 2017, West Virginia was the state with the highest percentage of adults suffering from hearing loss, nearly one in four state residents over the age of 18.
  • Just over one-fifth of West Virginians are 65 or older, the third highest rate in the country, with over nine percent of them living in poverty.

To address these calamities for West Virginia and all families in the United States, the Build Back Better bill provides immediate assistance. Its many provisions include:

  • Direct financial support for childcare.
  • A $35 monthly cap on life-saving insulin prices for all patients with diabetes who now pay from $375 to $1,000 a month for insulin.
  • Caps on out-of-pocket costs for a number of other prescription drug costs for Medicare age patients, and elimination of cost-sharing for vaccines covered by Medicare Part D.
  • Four weeks of paid medical and family leave, as nearly all other industrialized nations provide.
  • Expanding traditional Medicare to include hearing benefits, to cover the costs of hearing aids; 70 percent of older Americans with hearing loss do not have a hearing aid often due to cost.
  • Reduced healthcare costs for recipients of Medicaid and people with Affordable Care Act health plans, and permanent funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The bill also has enthusiastic backing among all West Virginians, strongly or somewhat supported by two-thirds of West Virginia likely voters, including 90 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independent voters.

National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union of registered nurses in the United States with more than 175,000 members nationwide.