Healthcare a Human Right, Maine Nurses Say
"In this most industrialized country and the wealthiest country, healthcare should not be only for people who can afford it," Giles says. "We would like to see everyone to be covered." They propose paying for universal coverage in Maine through a payroll tax.
"That, to us, is the only answer," she says.
Giles says it was "very disheartening" when Maine refused federal healthcare money. In fact, the Portland Press Herald wrote in July that Maine has the "dubious distinction" of being "the only state in the nation where the people's representatives have approved health care expansion under the Affordable Care Act but it will not become law because of a governor's veto. In fact, Gov. Paul LePage has now vetoed it twice."
Giles says Maine nurses are still fighting for universal coverage. They've been spreading the word by hosting free health screening events and town hall meetings throughout the state. And they're trying to get the public and lawmakers onboard by telling stories of real patients like the "dead man walking" in the NEJM article.
"We're trying to do this through stories," Giles says. Mainers, she says, sometimes have to travel for hours through the rural state to receive healthcare that they can barely afford. "It's a tough place for some of these people who are barely getting by. They're living day-to-day."
Is health insurance a nursing issue? Giles has only one answer: An unequivocal "yes."
"It's clearly a nursing issue," she says. "Because we're the ones that take of these people that come in."
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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