Because We The People demand it!
You know you're a nurse when ...
Wow, how timely. Now I am really hoping I don't get a bunch or “Blue” or “Red” comments because this isn't about partisanship. This is about something that affects us all, no matter what your party. (And while I know the environment is just ripe for people to bash one party over the other right now, this is not the platform, PLEASE).
This is about some pretty unfair stuff that is hurting us all where we work, who we are and what we are trying to do for our nation's frailest — while trying to stay afloat ourselves. Give me just a second or two and I'll get where I'm going.
This idea hit me when I read an erroneous email chain full of “urban legends” going around titled the “Congressional Reform Act of 2011.” Why are there urban legends in it? Because of public pressure due to some of the unfair privileges members of Congress receive over other Americans, changes were made that are not reflected in the chain email.
However, there are some facts hidden among the many urban legends. So be very careful when you read sites like Fact Check because, typically political, you have to look for the spin. For example, the Congressional Reform Act calls for Congress (past, present and future) to participate in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund would move to the Social Security system immediately. Congress participates with the American people in the Social Security system.
Congress' answer was that they pay into Social Security just like everybody else. Well, Congress may pay into the Social Security system like the rest of us, but they don't have to collect it because they have a separate Congress retirement fund that “we the people” fund. So they can feel free to mess with it or let it run out because they just won't need the financial assistance it provides in retirement (though I do hope no one expects to live fully off of Social Security). That's just one example of how you should be cautious and get out your magnifying lens when you go to dissect something like this.
But what's got me standing on my soapbox and what has all of this got to do with a Nurse Jackie Blog anyway? Well, in this newly called for “Act” there is a section that reads “Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same healthcare system as the American people.”
Now, for sure Congress can choose to accept the same type of healthcare options many of us have. But they also have an option most of us — a fully funded (again by “we the people”) Federal option.
I think most of us have to admit that changes need to be made to the Medicare system because there just isn't enough money in it currently to support the tidal wave of elders needing it. And just making slashing cuts isn't the answer.
My point is that Congress can choose to accept Medicare but they most likely won't. I mean, why should they when they are given that federal insurance for the rest of their days? So it won't affect them if nursing facilities file for bankruptcy in droves and doctors stop taking patients on Medicare (because it costs them way more to see the patient then they can get paid). Those are services they or their immediate family members won't need. But what if, just what if, we were all playing on the same field? Might other decisions be made? I honestly don't know.
The email going around said that Americans should urge members of Congress to "purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do." But their answer to that is “that is nonsense because relatively few Americans buy retirement plans entirely out of their own pockets.”
Well first off, that really doesn't answer the question nor does it deny that they are receiving a fully funded (and really nice) retirement plan that (yup, again, “we the people” pay for). And it doesn't matter that those working in long-term care and geriatrics in general are some of the lowest paid in healthcare because, hey, we can purchase our own retirement plans, right?
I know that all LTC facilities match what the average nursing assistant puts into their 401K, right? (The song “Dream on” is suddenly playing in my head).
Going back to Patrick Henry's quote, if we change one word, perhaps it should now say, “The Congress is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people; it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
At a point in time when the trust in Congress is abysmal, and the good of the people is stalled by party interests, it is “we the people” who are being hurt. And, frankly, that stinks!
So we need to get off of our party lines and work together and demand that LTC and geriatric medicine in general stop being the “redheaded step child” of healthcare. We have a lot of critically good work to do and need the support structure to do it and we have to pay a workforce if we want to grow it.
How on earth are we going to care for the booming number of elders, especially when the workforce, is shrinking instead of growing? So let's have an “American Geriatric Care Act” and say, “We the People demand it.”
Just keeping it real!
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC — a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet.