Let’s Talk About Health Care and I Don’t Mean the ACA

By Deborah Burger, RN and NNU Co-president

Let’s talk about health care. I don’t mean debating the Affordable Care Act. I mean health care, as in: If everyone needs health care, guarantee that everybody gets it.

I know, when it comes to health care, it’s easy to get into a debate for or against Obamacare. But we nurses see the world through a different lens: our patients.

Share this video of nurses summing up why everyone in the U.S. needs & deserves healthcare:

Good health care is a fundamental resource that keeps America’s big engine running. Every day, as we do our best to care for our patients, nurses see people with chronic disease like asthma or diabetes who can’t afford insurance costs or medication. Maybe they’re absent from work, tired, and distracted from trying to manage their health on a shoestring. They run the risk of hospitalization. They struggle for a distant unreachable shore hoping something will help. They can’t get ahead because their health keeps dragging them down. 

And yet the answer isn’t on the horizon, the answer is in our pockets, in our hands. It’s our taxes. We pay them and we ought to benefit from them.

There’s one thing that every American does. Every working American (OK, except the Wall Street crowd) pays taxes. But what do we pay taxes for? Increasingly, we wonder where our money is going, how our money is serving our communities, and how our tax money is helping us and our families.

There are dozens of arguments about what our tax dollars should be doing. But what if we spent a portion of our tax dollars on the one thing that would position every American, young and old, on the road to success? That one thing is good health. You need it to go to school, get to your job, excel at what you do, and dream big dreams that will make our country great again.

We must do better and nurses have a solution. The United States ranks first in costs but 37th in health outcomes in the world. We do even worse for infant morality and life expectancy.
So nurses are proposing another way. We’re saying that our taxes should help pay for our healthcare. It works for seniors, it works for Congress members, and it will work for all of us.

This week, we launched an online campaign, asking voters to demand this from Congress. You can learn more about the online campaign here.

Ads appearing online this week.

We’re talking about something that already exists for some, right here in the United States of America, and what can easily exist for everyone. A tax-funded national healthcare system would negotiate prices for prescription drugs, medical devices and services, specialists and more, effectively lowering the cost of delivering care. Taxpayers don’t have to worry about paying for someone else’s care. You’ll be paying for your own care, your family’s care, without raising taxes at all.

Since the tax subsidies to buy insurance under the ACA mostly move money around to pay for private insurance for some that don’t have it, and which allows the insurers to take 20 cents off the dollar, it would be more efficient to uses taxes to pay for everybody’s healthcare directly, eliminating the middleman and the shell game.

international healthcare cost chart
International healthcare cost vs. quality chart.

We are reaching inside the box to think outside the box; we are charting a third way. It’s time to rediscover healthcare as care rather than insurance for the first time in a long time, and let the taxes we already pay deliver what every American needs.


  1. Diane on August 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Love your video, single payer is the answer.

  2. Edward M Moriarty on August 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    The health care industry is part of burgeoning Corporatocracy that rules most of the planet. They have the power to continue robbing US taxpayers and health insurance customers for the PROFIT of the already wealthy. They cannot be forced and will not be forced into free healtcare for all. They only know one motivating force……PROFIT!
    They control and influence many governments around the planet and in the past 25 yrs have effectively purchased the services of the United States Congress and court systems. It is unrealistic to think that anything other thn the total overthrow of PROFIT ONLY DRIVEN CAPITALISM can change this unhealthful healt care system. Unregulated, uncontrolled Capitalism is the most deadly cancer on the planet. If it continues unchecked our world will devolve into chaos and worldwide poverty……with no support for people in need. I fear we have already lost the battle for planet earth. No Hope, and too tired to fight the bastards ny longer. They have THE POWER……the people have had the power stolen by Citizens United empowering corporations to take over the control of government. They will not be good to the people. DEPRESSED, SAD, HOPELESS is a national Tate of mind in the US.

    • louis berne on September 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

      I understand why people did not respond to Ed Moriarty but his call to end capitalism in order to solve the health insurance problem should be addressed – but not on the merits of whether or not he is too old and tired and depressed to “fight the bastards”, or has given up on the ability for anyone or any force to do so in time before the whole planet goes down.
      As in medical science, if you have the wrong diagnosis you cannot arrive at a proper treatment or cure. Citizens United was NOT the last nail in the coffin as Moriarty suggests, but it is a stake-sized nail, and there are more coming. There is a growing consensus among scientists that the planet is heading for a tipping point beyond which there IS no return, but we might not reach it if we act in time. People like Moriaty are crying out for radical solutions – which requires millions of people ultimately to shed illusions about reforming the system from within. This insight may seem as painful a prospect as open-heart surgery, but those who fear they may fall into resignation, or even depression (as Moriarty has, even tho i hope my response helps him a bit see the value of his righteous anger) by considering the scale of what we are called upon to do – that is, a revolution to sweep aside their archaic institutions of power and replace them with new ones – need to think again. (see revcom.us)

  3. Laura on August 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Historically change has been brought about by people, not politicians. We must stand up and be counted. Keep saying the words “Medicare for all”. Fight sound bites with sound bites. Beat the politicians at their own game.

    • jerri bedell on August 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Laura… you are so right! It is the people that can change this country, just by standing up together.

  4. jerri bedell on August 16, 2013 at 11:33 am

    I really like what you are doing, and also as an RN I believe in health care for all! I do have to make a comment about your comment that health care for seniors is free… it’s no longer free… Most are paying about $100 that automatically comes out of their social security, and basic medicare does not pay for hardly anything because now providers and hospitals are charging seniors for the balance over what medicare pays. So then they have to pay about $225 per month for coverage of that amount over what medicare pays for. $325 a month is a huge burden for many seniors which means they are in the same boat now as the rest of us… losing their homes to the healthcare system. I am not yet of age for medicare, but even now after having started my own successful business, after losing my nursing job and becoming a federal healthcare whistleblower, I still cannot afford healthcare insurance for myself or employees. Fortunately for me, I have found Classical Homeopathy to be much more effective for all health problems and of course makes me angry at waste and suffering caused by western medicine! And it doesn’t break the bank. It is just not right!

    I am absolutely for healthcare for ALL and I am convinced we can afford it, not because of what Canada does or other countries, but because we all can see the extravagance, greed and waste in this country. Too many of our politicians, and insurance company CEOs are just out for themselves and really don’t care about the people they represent. And then their weird ideas only stuff their own pockets and confuse the public with their false claims. I am old enough to have experienced life prior to HMOs… remember when we had one main insurance policy and a supplement which covered all of our expenses and the cost did not break us. And seniors paid only about $25 for full coverage by medicare. I remember as a young nurse believing that the advent of HMOs and DRGs would be the downfall of our healthcare system and hurt the American public.

    If we really pulled together as a true America I believe we could easily provide healthcare for all, AND rebuild infrastructure AND everything else that will build our economy and make us a great country again.

    • Ray on August 28, 2013 at 10:49 am

      You’re a nurse and you’re talking homeopathy, they should yank your license, and send you to witchdoctor school cuz there you’d know more and learn better afterwards, but then you’d know nothing about modern science and treatment methods, than what you got from your previous nursing training if that’s where they taught the great benefits and treatments of homeopathy, Wholly quacomole, you are unqualified. I suppose you also saw the value in Touch Therapy where waving hands over the ill person is supposed to do something, it doesn’t, it didn’t never have and it never will. Homeopathy is pseudoscience, and do you also believe disease is caused by demons lurking just below the clouds ready to pounce on the unrepentant? Go to a real Nursing school. You scare me if many nurses are like you. Could that be why you are no longer a nurse? Maybe you’re delusional and others actually blew the whistle on you. Sorry, that didn’t sound very nice, but I’m not trying to offend you.
      I didn’t make this comment to be hurtful or offend you, but puhlease…Homeopathy??? for Zeus sakes. research it, it’s crap. Start with Skeptical Inquiry magazine online.

    • Ray on August 28, 2013 at 10:59 am

      And another thing, Western medicine is all there is baby, its advances has helped you to live as long as you do, not other pseudosciences and Homeopathy. I think you’re confusing corporate profit demands rigging the healthcare industry finances and CEO bonuses and the level of actual expertise of Western medicine, based on the lastest understandings in science.

      Sadly, money matters is trumping almost everything, so that food isn’t what keeps you alive, it’s a commodity for generating profits to some shareholder. Same with the healthcare industry, but you can’t dismiss the whole field of Western Medicine because of the greedy within it, you gotta dump the greedy bastards and take the system back to basics, helping the sick and injured and forget profits.
      I was a Biomedical Engineering Tech and worked at several hospitals rubbing shoulders with the docs and nurses, and I loved my job, and never felt it was a job.

  5. NoDifference on August 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    You begin by claiming that it is easy to get into a debate about Obamacare. Really? Not for me.

    There is no debate, only Single Payer. Go NNU nurses!!!

  6. anna on August 16, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    One of your ads says: Seniors get free healthcare, why not us?

    Seniors do not get free healthcare. Medicare Part B was $115 per month from my SS check when I turned 65. Now it is $104. On top of that, my Part D premium would have been $48 per month plus copays and the infamous donot hole. I oped out of both because Part B did not cover many necessities such as dental, prescription eyeglasses, dental – there’s an 80/20 copay and a deductible. So the coverage is skimpy. And, for someone living on Social Security, the monthly loss from the SS check would leave a senior chosing between food/heat or Medicare Part B or having to choose between Part B and Part D.

    The help avaiable doesn’t apply to people who have a small amount of savings BUT without the savings, property taxes or mortgage, etc. wouldn’t be paid.

    So, many seniors – I’m not the only one according to SHINE counselors I spoke with – have to forego Part B and, perhaps, Part D as well.

    I remain uninsured. I would like all the Medicare tax I have paid into the system returned to me but that will never happen.

    Therefore, that ad is untrue. Shame on you for saying it’s free when you should know better.

    As for Part D, it is cheaper to purchase RX from Canada than to pay for Part D premium, copays and then hit the donut hole while you still have to pay the monthly premiums but get zilch in return.

    By the way, I noticed in the You and Medicare handbook that Part B covers diabetes paraphernaliz but nothing for pre-diabetes. You would think with all the gov’t noise about cutting health care costs, Medicare would cover pre-diabetes. Why wait until it’s full blown? Then it costs the gov’t and the patient a lot of money and also puts the patient through much suffering from the grave problems that come with diabetes.

    Just sayin’

    • Ray on August 28, 2013 at 10:36 am

      anna, you are absolutely correct, Medicare coverage is not free for Seniors, but compared to someone uninsured it is relatively free as it costs more for the uninsured to have to pay for healthcare strictly out-of-pocket, say, like you as an uninsured person, just hope you don’t get sick.

      But they were making a good point in that Medicare versus uninsured costs less and if it’s you it feels free compared to what you’d be billed, and actually may be unable to pay out of pocket.

      My SS COLA of $24 for 2013 was mostly wiped out, essentially nullified because my Part D co-pay that was previously $0 was now $20 per script beginning in the same month my COLA was increased. Zero sum gain. Same one drug per month that would cost me $75 cash price, without Part D, but $50 through the insurance company. Also Part D premium went up, so to re-cap, my Annual Part D Premium for coverage costs me $1320, I now pay additionally $20 per month per script, that is, in my case, just one drug, fortunately, so $1320+$240 for monthly drug costs comes to $1560 per year, or $130 a month($32.50 per week). So, I pay $1560, the insurance company pays $360($30 per script for their costs) for my drug annually, they are, or rather, I feel exploited by them, for making money off a sick person that must have that one drug to get by. If I just paid the $75 per month for the one drug it would come to $900, and I’d save $55 per month. But if I get sick and find I need, say, high priced heart meds, the non-preferred non-generic brandname drugs well, seems only then might I get ahead.

      I think it’s a rip off this idea of Tier levels cuz’ it’s a gimmick to get more from the patients, cuz the drug didn’t change, and we’re not speaking here of higher priced drugs, this is preferred generic, translated is cheapest for the patient, less profit for the drug company.

      The one drug is a preferred generic, and the company just changed the Tier level from 1 to 2 they called it(I left Humana because they also changed Tier levels, which made my cost for one drug my last year with Humana, to go from $7 per script to $38 per script…YES…$38!!!??? for one script, same drug I’ve gotten for 6 years at $5-$7 per month co-pay went up 81% to $38 for one 30 day supply of one of the cheapest drugs they make. Dec 2010, I paid $7, 30 days later, January 2011, $38 for the same drug, a preferred generic drug.
      Go Nurses, we gotta love’em for having all our backs.

  7. John Barker on August 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    I support HR676 Improved Medicare for All 100% and NNU’s effort, however I find the Ads above untrue and contradictory. Health care is not free for anyone including Congress and Seniors nor should it be. Health care should be provided at the lowest cost possible because it is a human right and for profit health care for captive consumers is an atrocity. The Ads above are contradictory because two ask why not free health care for us and the third says our taxes should pay for health care, in other words the message of the first two ads doesn’t follow the message of the third. We have to avoid the notion of free health care, grow up and accept that we have to pay for health care via taxation like citizens of other civilized countries do. That should be the message.