DECISION ON AFFORDABLE CARE ACT A VICTORY The U.S. Supreme Court got it right on healthcare with its June 25 decision in King v. Burwell, AFT President Randi Weingarten says. “This is a victory for working families,” she noted following the decision. “Ask the nurse who sees patients every day who are getting healthy thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Ask the adjunct professor or the school support-staff worker who now has coverage thanks to the law. The Affordable Care Act is working. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 16 million Americans who previously had no coverage now have access to affordable, quality healthcare.”
CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF MEDICARE It’s been 50 years since Medicare was signed into law, and on July 30, activists and supporters gathered in dozens of cities nationwide to celebrate and call on lawmakers to protect, improve and expand the vital program. The celebration in Washington, D.C., drew hundreds of activists from unions and other organizations, including the AFT, the Alliance for Retired Americans, the United Auto Workers, National Nurses United and Healthcare-NOW! A number of AFT affiliates also participated in the celebrations, including the Washington State Nurses Association, the United Federation of Teachers and AFT Connecticut. Many of the speakers at these celebrations said the best way to preserve and honor Medicare is to expand it to all Americans.
LOBBYING FOR STAFFING IMPROVEMENTS A SUCCESS Connecticut hospitals are required to have a nurse staffing plan in place that provides adequate and appropriate healthcare services with input from direct care staff, along with other requirements. In the last legislative session, healthcare members of AFT Connecticut lobbied state lawmakers to revise the current law to require each hospital licensed by the state Department of Public Health to report its staffing levels or nurse-to-patient ratios annually. The revision also would allow the department to make that information public.
PATIENT SAFETY, NURSES’ RIGHTS IN FIRST CONTRACT Registered nurses at Inspira Medical Center in Woodbury, N.J., have ratified their first contract. The RNs are newly unionized nurses, and their decision to join Health Professionals and Allied Employees unites them with nurses at three other Inspira hospitals already represented by HPAE, New Jersey’s largest healthcare union. “This contract improves our working conditions, creates new standards to enforce safe staffing levels and gives nurses greater ability to provide safe patient care,” says Arthur Matthews, a behavioral health RN who has more than 10 years of experience at the hospital and was elected to the negotiating committee. “Inspira-Woodbury is a small community hospital; our patients are our family members and neighbors, and our priority is protecting our hospital, so we deliver the best care for our patients.”
WALK TO SAVE RURAL HOSPITALS CONCLUDES AT THE U.S. CAPITOL Belhaven, N.C., Mayor Adam O’Neal hit the road for the second summer in a row—walking from his hometown of Belhaven to Washington, D.C., to raise awareness of the plight of rural hospitals across the country. This year, O’Neal and a group of activists from across the country walked 283 miles, a number symbolic of the number of rural hospitals that face closure in the United States this year due to financial pressure. “This isn’t just a rural problem—it’s everyone’s problem,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten, who joined the walkers at the Capitol. “We must stop putting profits ahead of people and focus on how we can help people in urban and rural areas.”
NURSES HOST A FUN RUN The Ohio State University Nurses Organization held its first “Christmas in July” 5K run and walk to raise money and collect new toys to donate to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. The local, which is an Ohio Nurses Association/AFT affiliate, represents nearly 3,000 nurses working at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. The nurse-sponsored event brought in more than $2,500 and dozens of toy donations. One of the racers, RN Shelly Wade, said the event was a great opportunity for nurses to show their support for other healthcare providers in the city, promote wellness and be a part of a larger community. Registered nurse Jessie Frymyer agreed. “The race gave community members an opportunity to get up and get moving while helping a patient population we don’t get to service.”